Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Big trucks, bigger problems

My wife and I both have encountered logging trucks well across the line on our side, as you all have I’m sure. We know their perceived excessive speed, we see the damage on our roads caused by trucks far too big and heavy for the roadways, and the threats to ourselves, neighbours and families.
I recently spoke with a logging truck driver who, while empathetic to our noise concerns, “yes big trucks make big noise”, was the end of his consideration.
The driver went on to say that some of the trucks are using the new model ‘xyz’ engine brake that you could barely hear and that Western Forest Products had mandated that none of the trucks exceed the speed limit. Further, he pointed out: “If you think the roads are too narrow or poorly built—talk to the Highways folks.” He was sure that the truckers were not at fault for the repeated rollovers of loaded trucks, engine brake noise, excessive speeds, load sizes or disruptive noise. They were within the law and their rights to operate as they were accustomed—if we wanted change we’d have to get the roads fixed. No, he wouldn’t want these trucks going through his Okanagan neighbourhood.
In fairness, the truckers have families to feed, mortgages to pay and vacations to finance. And they happen to drive big trucks. Fair enough: I grew up in a logging family, a logging community and have participated in the act, I admit, for most of my life in a small way. I know that trees grow back, logging is a mainstay of our economy and that logs go to market.
I spoke with our CRD Director Mike Hicks, John Horgan’s office and local RCMP about this.
Mike took did a good job, reducing the 1:00 to 4:00 a.m. trucking, and I think a reduction in engine brake use. More noise awareness signs are posted and fresh paint down the centre-line of West Coast Road.
Mike ( invites us all to report any incidents of early morning logging truck hauling, engine brake use, and bad driving (excessive speed, road hogging, debris from loads and such). Be sure to do so.
The RCMP, have done their best with limited resources to oversee the errant truckers, but that mostly falls under the CVSI teams we see occasionally. Unfortunately, the truckers adjust their habits accordingly while the teams patrol.
John’s office invited me to meet in August after his new government has settled in.
What I, and probably most of you don’t get, is why other options such as other hauling routes, smaller trucks and loads, booming and towing by water are not being implemented, though cost to the logging companies is clear.

What to do?

Write to Mike, to John (he’s still our MLA) and the press.

Encourage your government officials to promote hauling raw timber by booms to mills in BC, to manufacture products for export, to consult affected communities, and to consider things like photo-radar, Silent Witness technology in the trucks (which monitor and report daily speeds and noise levels), to install centre line rumble strips, to enhance police, Commercial Vehicle Safety patrols and to make fines and penalties for infractions unsustainable.

There is no one answer as logging will be with us for a long time, timber is a renewable resource and critical to our economy and livelihoods.
If you are followed by these behemoths, stand your ground—drive the speed limit and make them do the same. Be very, very attentive, especially on curves; if one flips onto you, only the truck driver has a chance of surviving.
Be very aware, drive defensively and enjoy the summer!


Al of Otter Point

Note: This submission was edited for length