Log truck driver loses trailer brakes on 23% grade, crashes truck into ditch

Safety Alert Type: 
Log Hauling
TFL 39 (Vancouver Island)
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
Company Name: 
Kurt Leroy Trucking Ltd.
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

A loaded logging truck was travelling down an 18-24% grade section of the spur road in first gear when the driver felt the load pushing.

As the driver engaged the brakes and pulled on the hand valve, the truck “hopped” and it was apparent the trailer brakes were not engaged.

With no relief for nearly 400 metres further down the road, the driver feared losing control of the truck due to an upcoming switchback. He removed his seatbelt and initially planned to jump from the truck but instead decided to put the rig into the ditch. The driver estimates he was travelling at a speed of 15 – 20 km/h.

Investigation confirmed the brakes on the tractor (lining, drums, etc) were all within acceptable limits and found to be in good working order. However, it was discovered that a compression fitting used to splice the service air line to the trailer’s air tanks had failed and leaked air. The fitting’s furls had not been crimped properly to the air line and the brass fitting not tightened properly to hold the splice in place.

While the driver did conduct a pre-trip inspection and a cursory check to see the air line was repaired, he did not examine the fitting closely.

The driver stated he did not have any issues while being loaded (as he would have engaged his maxi’s). The landing bucker stated he did not hear any air leaks however the noise from the loader’s engine would have hampered the ability to hear any leaks. Prior to departing for the log sort, the driver did a tug test with the hand valve and determined all to be okay.

As a result of the incident, the log truck driver suffered some small cuts and bruises but more seriously, had also fractured a vertebra in his neck.

Learnings and Suggestions: 
  • The driver acknowledged not following safe job procedures (SJP) regarding seatbelt use, and failed to conduct a thorough check of the air line splice repair
  • The subcontractor acknowledged the repair had not been inspected by a supervisor
  • Prior to leaving the landing with a load of logs, drivers must ensure they complete a tug test and confirm all air systems are functioning normally
  • Steep grade assessments must be completed prior to hauling on grades great than 18%
  • Log truck drivers should always wear seat belts while driving to prevent injuries in the event of an accident
  • All repairs to braking systems should be thoroughly checked and tested for air leaks.


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