VANCOUVER, B. C. –Radarequipped forest cops have started patrolling the province’s logging roads in a new push by the provincial government to end deaths and injuries in logging.
Forests Minister Pat Bell said recently that the province has purchased radar guns and is training forest district staff on the use of these instruments, as part of a broader resource roads safety initiative. Some of the guns are in use already.
The province is responsible for regulating traffic on B. C.’s 59,000 kilometres of resource roads but until now, enforcement has been spotty or non-existent.
“The free-for-all is over,” trucking safety advocate MaryAnne Arcand, a director of the B. C. forest safety council, told the Vancouver Sun. “Rules do apply and they are going to be enforced. Speed is a huge factor in accidents and there’s a whole mythology with the public and with industry, that there are no rules in the bush.”
Arcand said radar guns give forestry staff the tools they need to enforce speed limits.
The default speed limit on resource roads is 80 km/h, unless lower limits are posted.
Rick Publicover, executive director of the Central Interior Logging Association, said radar will aid in improving logging road safety, but he noted that it is public users of the roads who are the worst offenders. There are 4,000 logging truck drivers in B. C., but there are countless thousands of pick-up trucks on resource roads either for recreation or work.
Last year in B. C., nine people died on resource roads, three logging truck drivers and six people travelling to-and-from work. That’s down significantly from 2005, one of the worst safety years on record in the forest industry, when 17 people died on logging roads.
Arcand said for some logging truck drivers, getting nabbed for speeding during a pilot project last summer came as a shock. •
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