Extreme rain events make resource roads slippery

Safety Alert Type: 
Resource Roads
Location: 
Meadow Mountain Road (near Kaslo, BC – West Kootenays)
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
2013-06-19
Company Name: 
Sutco Contracting Ltd.
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

It was late afternoon when a loaded logging truck (tri-drive / tri-axle combination) left Meadow Mountain Road. It was raining very heavily (and had been raining during previous days) and roads were extremely slippery due to muddy conditions.

Generally, this road section is not a two-lane road but there is plenty of room for a single lane. However, at several locations and at the incident location, the “effective road width” narrows considerably. Outer sections lean out to a steep embankment and road surface materials are unstable (particularly when saturated with water). Consequently, the usable running width is only as wide as a log truck.

As the truck approached this location, it got out of the track and into the outer, muddy section. The poor traction and excessive lean gripped the converter of the trailer, and pulled the trailer to the extreme edge of the road, over-balancing, toppling the load and pulling the rest of the truck over the bank (see photos in attached pdf).

The unit rolled some 30 metres (100 feet) down the embankment and came to a rest. The driver received extensive injuries but survived. The truck and trailer were a total loss.

Learnings and Suggestions: 

Drivers, supervisors and road maintainers / owners can do several things to avoid similar occurrences:

• Be aware of road conditions. When conditions are good, look for places where the road leans out, the crown is off-camber, width narrows significantly, or lacks decent surface materials. That way, when road conditions are poor, you already “know” where trouble will potentially occur, and can adjust your driving to avoid anticipated hazards.

• Know your load, and how it will influence your rigs’ dynamics. The overall weight, its center of gravity (left of right of center?), axle loading (heavy on truck or trailer?) significantly affects the stability of your truck and how it handles.

• Watch roadside vegetation. Brush and weeds growing right along the road edge suggest poor road surface drainage. They tend to keep water on the road, allowing it to penetrate the road surface, and make things slippery.

• Help each other out. If you feel your trailer start to wiggle and squirm behind you, slow things down a little, and remind the rest of the drivers (including pickups) how slick it is.

• Find where the good traction is on solid ground, and use it. Make sure you are especially vigilant in watching and listening for oncoming traffic.

• For sections of road known to be hazardous, remind the grader operator to touch it up, or require the road “owner” to bring in better quality surface materials. If a simple touch up won’t work, report the hazardous conditions and ask the maintainer / owner to reconstruct the road prism to fix a nasty outer lean.

• Consider signage to identify general hazard conditions (“Slippery When Wet”) or specifically hazardous locations (“Narrow Road Ahead”).

For more information on this submitted alert: 

For more information: Glen Wakefield, Sutco Contracting Ltd. (250) 357-2612 x230

File attachments
Extreme rain events make resource roads slippery.pdf
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