Snowmobiles in near miss with crew truck

Safety Alert Type: 
Resource Roads
Resource road southeast of Wells, BC
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
Company Name: 
Westforest Consulting Ltd.
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

A Westforest Consulting forestry crew was proceeding south on the 3100 Road at approximately 9:00 a.m. when two snowmobiles entered onto the roadway via a steep, obscured ATV trail that approaches from the right side near 3110 km.

One sled proceeded ahead of the Westforest pickup and one followed behind. The pickup driver pulled over and motioned for the following sled to pass. Both sleds then proceeded up the 3100 Road ahead of the crew, at times travelling on a flattened grader-winged berm along the side of the road and at times travelling directly on the snow-packed roadway.

The Westforest driver & passenger had occasional sightings of the sleds travelling ahead of them as they continued to proceed south along the narrow, winding roadway. At approximately 14 km, the Westforest pickup began to overtake the rearmost sled which was travelling at a reduced speed in a narrow clearing to the right of the grader berm on the right side of the road.

The Westforest driver pulled to the far left side of the road and slowed to a speed that would be only fast enough to allow him to pass the sled, which appeared to be slowed by the deeper snow or obstacles in the clearing.

Just as the Westforest vehicle began to pass the sled, it veered out of the narrow clearing, up across the grader berm, then out onto the roadway. When the sled landed on the roadway, the sled operator was thrown off and both sled and operator came to a stop within 1-2m of the passenger’s door of the Westforest pickup, which by this time was travelling at a very slow rate of speed.

Learnings and Suggestions: 

The near miss incident was discussed with field staff at a safety meeting the following morning. Immediate & root causes were identified as follows:

Root Cause: The primary root cause lay in the prohibited travel of the snowmobiles along the active public roadway. For the purposes of our investigation, however, it was determined that the Westforest driver failed to adequately assess the risk/hazard that the snowmobile presence on the roadway represented. Although exercising significant caution, the driver could have been more cognizant of the possibility that the sled involved in the near miss could lose control or otherwise act erratically.

Immediate Cause: The Westforest driver should not have attempted to overtake the sled until he was certain that the sled operator was aware of his intention to pass.

Field crews were advised to exercise extreme caution between 8 and 16 km on the 3100 Road as, in spite of its current heavy industrial use, this stretch of road is not infrequently used as a travel corridor by snowmobilers on their way to a popular snowmobile recreation area that is accessed via a branch road that leaves the 3100 Road near 3115 km.

The Westforest Safety Coordinator forwarded a copy of the near miss investigation (CAL) to the following:

• Quesnel MFLNRO

• West Fraser Woodlands

• Wells RCMP detachment

• Wells Snowmobile Club

For more information on this submitted alert: 

Reg LeBlanc, Safety Coordinator - Westforest Consulting Ltd. (250) 747-3101

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