In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s logging vehicles in Georgia were frequently involved in accidents as a result of mechanical failure. While logging vehicles typically operate in much harsher working conditions than most other tractor-trailers, the mechanical failure rates were almost three times greater. In an effort to remedy this problem, legislation was passed to subject logging tractor-trailers to roadside safety inspections. The changes took effect in 1992. We have been tracking logging vehicle accidents since that time in an effort to determine if the new legislation would have an impact.
Our research shows that mechanical failure rates for logging vehicle accidents in Georgia are dramatically lower today than they were before the legislation took effect. Mechanical failure dropped by half for logging tractor-trailers (from 10.9% to 4.8%) and by two-thirds for logging trucks (from 12.9% to 4.2%). Mechanical failure was the most commonly cited factor contributing to logging tractor-trailer accidents prior to 1991, but is now the 7th most cited factor. In fact, today the contributing factors related to logging tractor-trailer accidents very closely mirror those of other heavy trucks.
Specific types of mechanical failures have also declined sharply. Three potential failure items that are visually checked during roadside inspections – brakes, slick tires, and lights – have seen the most dramatic declines. Brake failure has dropped by two-thirds and improper lights as a factor have almost disappeared. Driver impairment due to use of alcohol or drugs today occurs in less than 0.5% of accidents. Factors associated with logging vehicle accidents today in Georgia closely resemble those associated with all trucking accidents generally.