British Columbia log haulers have been granted exemptions from using two mandatory safety systems on heavy-duty trucks and trailers: automatic slack adjusters and anti-lock braking systems (ABS).

The systems have proven problematic in off-road environments, and the exemptions, granted Dec. 31, 2011, by B.C.’s Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement (CVSE) agency, were the culmination of years of lobbying by the Central Interior Logging Association (CILA) and its members.

In a notice issued to inspection facilities and authorized inspectors dated Dec. 31, CVSE advised: “By means of this notice, the requirement for inspection criteria of anti-lock brakes as stated in the Vehicle Inspection Manual is amended so that vehicles equipped with (ABS) components that may not meet inspection criteria or that do not function as OEM and that operate primarily on industrial or forest service roads may pass a provincial inspection.”

And as for automatic slack adjusters, the agency issued an amendment notice the same day that read: “Air brake equipped vehicles with manual slack adjusters that operate primarily on industrial or forest service roads may pass a provincial mechanical inspection.”

The exemptions were hailed as a major victory by CILA, which, buoyed by its success, said it would turn its attention to lobbying against an air disc brake mandate in hopes of preventing any such regulation before it’s enacted. (Canadian Forest Industries magazine is not aware of any impending mandates for disc brakes. FMVS 121 in the U.S. requires heavy truck stopping distances to be reduced by 30%, but this has been achieved through the use of larger, more effective drum brakes, air disc brakes, or a combination of disc and drum brakes. The regulation did not specify the type of brake

MaryAnne Arcand, executive director of CILA, says log haulers had no shortage of complaints about how ABS and auto-slack adjusters performed in logging operations.

“The key concerns had to do with maintenance and replacing parts,” she explains. “The ABS light was almost always on, because of mud and snow corroding or breaking wires. This was really more of a concern to log and off-highway trucks in areas of B.C., which operate in months of winter snow and ice, and mud in the spring and fall. In the case of auto slacks, my understanding is it had to do with them not functioning properly in mud, snow and ice conditions.”

Lloyd Inwood, owner of Quesnel, B.C.-based Inwood Trucking, was an outspoken critic of the technologies. Some of the problems his fleet has experienced include plastic brake valves broken by rocks; brake failure on a steep hill; spongy brakes on gravel roads; and overall poor performance compared to the company’s long log trailers that were purchased before trailer ABS was mandated in 2000.

While B.C. loggers are happy to bid good riddance to ABS and automatic slack adjusters, the exemption does raise some questions and concerns. For one, it appears suppliers were not involved in the consultations and there seems to have been no in-depth research supporting the exemption.

Tom Weed, engineering supervisor for ABS with Bendix, says he was “kind of caught off guard” by the exemption. “I don’t believe we were consulted on it, which they don’t have to do, of course…without knowing the rationale and the details, it’s really difficult to comment on.”

CFI has learned there was a high-level conference call with members of the Heavy-Duty Manufacturers Association,
during which it was decided not to take an official position on the exemption. Still, the announcement now has their attention because it appears to be the only such exemption that’s been granted anywhere in North America.

“I’ve never heard of an exemption like this being granted, nor have any of my colleagues that I’ve spoken to,” Weed says.
He was surprised to hear of the problems related to ABS use in the bush, noting Bendix has sold more than a million of its current ABS systems and it is performing to expectations in applications that are every bit as demanding as logging. Weed also noted there are ABS models available that offer an “off-road mode, where ABS operation is modified somewhat under these conditions, to improve the actual performance of the ABS in off-road conditions. But for that to work, the ABS has to be functioning.”

Another concern involves the ambiguous wording of the exemption. As noted above, the exemption has been extended to vehicles that “operate primarily on industrial or forest service roads.”

It’s no secret that logging is seasonal by nature. It’s not a stretch to think that a truck whose primary function is logging could also be used to pull lumber, chips or even general freight on-highway at certain times of the year. This raises the potential for the operation of trucks and trailers without ABS and automatic slack adjusters on-highway.

When asked by CILA for clarification on the language, Brian Murray, CVSE director, said:
“If a truck/trailer is being used on a logging road/resource road to assist in logging operations between the minimum mandatory six-month vehicle inspections, then it is deemed to be primarily used on an industrial road or FSR (forest service road). Logging shows can move multiple times in a year and create a multitude of differing off-highway kilometres run versus on-highway kilometres – depending on where the timber licence is located in the bush. Some of these trucks may also be used to haul other resource commodities or lowbed equipment on FSRs and industrial roads during spring break-up for road repairs or construction of access roads and to mobilize fire equipment during logging down times. In the end it’s all about a braking system that functions properly, and a greater onus is now put on the operator and carrier to ensure this is done when presented with these options.”

It appears then, that the determination of whether a truck is in fact a logging truck, will be up to the discretion of the enforcement officers. Still, there seems to be little within the law to guarantee the truck won’t be used for other, over-the-road purposes in the months between its twice-yearly inspections.

“Without a functioning ABS system, a locked wheel doesn’t do anything for you,” Weed notes. “It has the potential to reduce vehicle stability, reduce vehicle steer-ability and the ability of the driver to put the vehicle where they want it. I would be concerned about someone driving a vehicle without functioning ABS and certainly, in this case, if they have been driving without ABS and then turn around and take it out on the road.”

Another obvious concern within the supplier industry is that other sectors and other jurisdictions will follow B.C.’s lead and grant exemptions of their own. ABS and automatic slack adjusters were mandated because they offer proven safety benefits. If certain pockets of the industry were to exempt the safety systems, it could be seen as a giant step backwards for trucking safety.

Still, loggers will argue a non-functioning system does little to improve safety, and in some cases can even hamper it. And they’re not likely to miss the technologies now that they’ve been excused from using them.

“In my opinion,” Inwood says, “there was very little thought put into mandating this system on logging trucks. We were just thrown under the category of general trucking.”

ABS & AutoSlack Exemption Update
On Jan. 1, 2012, logging trucks travelling off-highway the majority of the time were exempted from the requirement to have ABS systems and automatic slack adjusters. In order to take advantage of this exemption, you must have the Declaration Form in the truck at all times. The time qualification is over the six months between inspections, not by cycle or trip. CVSE is working with its inspectors and facilities to clear up any misunderstandings. See the updated bulletin at

To qualify for this exemption an individual or Carrier’s vehicle(s) must operate a minimum of 55% by an overall cumulative total time or distance between inspection period intervals. In addition, drivers and carriers that want to exercise this exemption must go to the Vehicle Inspections website and print or download the Declaration of Exemption. The declaration must be sent to CVSE to certify the exemption with a distinctive mark and once completed will be sent back to applicant.

Effective May 1, 2012, on presentation of a completed Declaration of Exemption, Designated Inspection Facilities and Authorized Inspectors may pass the vehicle if certified with a distinctive mark by CVSE.

On disclosure of a completed Declaration of Exemption vehicles may pass a provincial inspection if so equipped with properly functioning manual slack adjusters and/or non-functioning ABS component(s).

New semi-trailers that utilize ultra-light stakes and bunks made of composite materials are expected to be ready for market as early as 2013. Deloupe, a Quebec-based trucking equipment manufacturer, and FPInnovations (FPI), a non-profit forestry research and development group, are behind the research and trials that have been taking place since 2005 on the design for this revolutionary product.

For the first time in decades, forest industry fatality claims in British Columbia have dropped to less than 10 per year for three consecutive years. In 2009, there were five fatality claims in the industry, in 2010 that number was six; while in 2011 it was eight. According to safety experts, the changes are the result of recent safety improvements, and to a lesser extent, a slowdown in harvesting activity.

“Great strides have been made towards reducing serious injuries and fatalities in the woods and mills due to the combined efforts of industry, government, union, and forestry workers,” says Rob Moonen, director, SAFE Companies of the BC Forest Safety Council (BCFSC). “Seven years have passed since B.C.’s forest industry experienced its worst year ever in recent history for fatalities,” adds Moonen, referring to 2005 when the industry experienced a record high of 34 fatalities.

From 1999 to 2005 there were an average of 25 fatalities per year in the forest industry (an average of 21.6 of them in harvesting). This six-year time period is now used as the safety benchmark to measure against today.

The industry at that time was facing an unprecedented safety crisis, and the press served to spotlight the situation, harshly condemning forestry’s safety record. It was clear to everyone that changes were desperately needed. B.C. forest industry’s serious injury rate was three times as high as the provincial industrial average.

Moonen explains that if the industry had not made safety improvements, beginning half a dozen years ago, and the projected rate of injury had continued, there would have been 51 fatalities expected over the past three years rather than the 19 that did occur.

Implementation of tools such as SAFE Companies Certification and Faller Certification seems to be helping and that is now making it safer for workers, both in the mills and in the woods. The serious injury rate in forestry has been reduced down from three times the provincial average, to now being twice as high, and it appears that the trend towards a safer industry will continue. There has also been a reduction by 30% in time loss incidents per 100 people working. But Moonen says that making permanent changes to improve safety will continue to be a long-term challenge for everyone involved.

“In 2012, industry will need to keep focusing on making permanent and sustainable changes and continually improving on the positive efforts towards reducing the number of serious injuries and fatalities,” Moonen says, adding that “Looking at the numbers, it is clear there is a danger of complacency, which may cause injuries and/or fatalities to rise, which is why it’s extremely important for industry to focus and build upon the good work that’s been done.”

Following another spike of 19 fatalities in 2008, the industry showed definite improvements as the fatality number dropped down to five in 2009. Already in 2012, there have been three harvesting-related fatalities very early in the year, in addition to the heavy toll of injured workers and fatalities resulting from the Jan. 20, 2012, explosion at the Babine Forest Products mill at Burns Lake, B.C., which is co-owned by Portland, Ore.-based Hampton Affiliates and local First Nations.

Dave Lachance, acting manager, Forestry, Industry and Labour Services, WorkSafe BC, explains that there were more claims in 2011, partially resulting from the surge in economic activity, with more logging taking place as the demand for wood going to China has increased. “An upswing in logging activity is positive for the economy, but there has been a corresponding increase of pressure on the loggers, as they have had to try to compensate for the past three bad years. This means that they need to get the wood out in a hurry just to pay their bills. More activity needs more risk assessment to reduce incidents,” Lachance says.

WorkSafe BC is working to minimize the risks and the injuries. A key component of this strategy is to concentrate on more focused inspections such as The Faller Compliance Strategy Audit (FCSA), Phase III of the Integrated Forestry Compliance Strategy (IFSC), which was developed in 2005. The purpose of the IFCS was to ensure that forestry stakeholders understood the cascading responsibilities for health and safety at forestry operations.

“In 2008, seven certified fallers died due to workplace accidents. Their deaths followed two years without any faller fatalities,” says Lachance.

As a result, WorkSafeBC formed an internal team to examine the reasons why these fatalities were occurring. The teams’ findings and recommendations are contained in the report, Occupational Health and Safety Faller Serious Injury and Fatal Review 2009.

One of the recommendations of the internal review team was “to develop and implement a compliance audit for falling standards in planning, supervision, and worker professionalism,” which they viewed as Phase III of the IFCS.

The FCSA focuses on workplace accountability and responsibility for manual falling activities in forestry operations and consists of three parts:

  1. Faller Supervisor Checklist and Answer Sheets
  2. Faller Checklist and Answer Sheets
  3. Workplace Accountability Compliance (WAC) Checklist and Answer Sheets

The audit process will provide a baseline of manual falling in forestry operations. It will also allow WorkSafeBC to identify strengths and weaknesses in the workplace accountability systems in forestry operations so that improvements can be made and injuries and deaths prevented.

The safety numbers have shown improvements since the peak year 2005.
The data shows a steady decrease over the past 12 years.

Looking to the future, Lachance tells Canadian Forest Industries that WorkSafeBC forestry officers will be focused on reducing serious injuries by concentrating on three main areas: mechanism of injury in the mills (MSI - overexertion); falls from elevation; and “struck-by” incidents. “In the harvesting sector, officers will be reviewing employers’ plans for both falling activities and log transportation,” he says.

If there can be a bright spot when discussing fatalities and serious injuries, it’s that the overall improvement trend in safety has come during the toughest economic slowdown on record. According to BCFSC statistics, when comparing the fatality rate per 10 million m3 harvested, the data shows a steady decrease over the past 12 years. The impact of injuries, and particularly injuries requiring time off the job, and the effects on families are also being reduced. Due to the reduction in the rate of injuries per 100 workers since 2005, in the last two years alone (2009 and 2010) there were over 670 fewer lost time injuries (this number includes fatalities and serious injuries) than there would have been, including over 280 fewer serious injuries. A serious injury is generally defined as an injury that impacts a worker for more than 28 days, or a fatality, or a specific long-term impact.

“That’s 670 families who did not suffer the impact of a worker coming home and not being able to go back to work,” says Moonen.

“In 2012, an additional area of concern for the BCFSC will be developing ways to help industry get injured workers get back to work more quickly,” says Moonen. “Loss time claims now average a duration of approximately 90 days, which is twice as long as the provincial average.”

Moonen adds that as the economy brings more jobs back to the province and the industry seeks to attract new workers to fill the gap created by an aging, retiring workforce, it will become increasingly important to make forestry known as a safe industry – one where younger people can trust that health and safety are a priority and where parents feel that forestry-related careers will be a safe choice for their kids.

“We want to ensure that industry’s efforts do not simply plateau,” Moonen says. “The next step will be for industry to ‘up’ the challenge, and try to reach the ultimate goal of zero fatalities. I believe it is within our grasp.”

Sandra Tice is a forestry writer and editor based in Vancouver, B.C. She produced this article for Canadian Forest Industries.

With the latest technology on offer from Volvo, our truck expert questions why automated mechanical transmissions are not more popular with Canada’s loggers.

There’s a widely held belief in Canada that automated mechanical transmissions (AMTs), while well-suited for highway trucking, have no place in the bush or anywhere else off-highway.

Just as contractors and truckers in Northern B.C. are gearing up to deliver their inventory, another January thaw interrupts their plans. With the warmer winters we have experienced over the past few years, it’s a scenario that can occur just about anywhere in Canada’s North. It results in the need to move millions of metres of wood, but in fewer days than originally scheduled. It’s a situation that may tempt some log haulers to test their resilience and push the limits of fatigue. Before you consider travelling that road, there are a few things worth knowing about fatigue, its effects, ways to recognize it, and what you can do to manage it.
What is Fatigue?
Fatigue is a normal and important response to physical exertion, emotional stress, task monotony, boredom, or lack of sleep. Log haulers put in long, hard days (and nights), often according to irregular schedules and frequented by a number of physical and emotional stressors, so it’s quite reasonable to expect there are a number of ways fatigue can figure in a trucker’s world.

Acute and Cumulative Sleep Loss:  Everyone’s sleep needs are unique, but 90% of us require 7.5 to 8.5 hours of sleep per day to perform optimally. Acute sleep loss occurs when an individual receives less than their usual 7.5 to 8.5 hours within a 24-hour period. Cumulative sleep loss occurs over several days. For example, if you lose one hour of sleep each night, after five days, you have a sleep debt of five hours. Recovery from sleep debt does not require hour-for-hour pay back – two nights of good rest will often reduce accumulated sleep debt to zero.

Continuous Hours Worked:  Studies indicate that 16 to 18 hours of continuous wakefulness is associated with significantly reduced performance and alertness. So, if you’re pushing along a 13- or 14-hour shift, you also need to add in commuting time to and from work, wrenching time and other lifestyle commitments that are part of your day.

Circadian Rhythms: Our bodies are hard-wired to respond to key environmental stimuli – primarily light and dark. Circadian rhythms describe the cycles of our internal clock, which controls the timing of physiological activities such as thermo-regulation, immune function and digestion, as well as performance, alertness, and mood. We function best with traditional patterns of daytime wakefulness and nighttime sleep, with periods of reduced activity (i.e., decreased performance and alertness) between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m., as well as 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. To the extent that your driver is working during darkness, and trying to sleep in during daylight hours, they are confusing their natural body rhythms, accumulating fatigue and reducing human performance.

Sleep disorders: Sleep apnea, insomnia, bruxism (grinding of the teeth), night terrors, and others – impact quality of sleep significantly. Poor quality of sleep is directly linked to fatigue and the associated decreased alertness.

What Does Fatigue Do?
On the statistics side, The Canadian Trucking Association reports that 30% to 40% of collisions in the heavy truck industry in North America are related to fatigue. The National Transportation Safety Board has estimated that fatigue is related to 31% of fatal truck crashes. The fall-out from fatigue damages many truckers and their families, and it incurs huge costs to employers and the log hauling industry as a whole.

On an individual basis, fatigue contributes to the following:

  • Decreased awareness, reduced alertness – Mental alertness is a measure of our ability to perceive – see, hear, smell – a stimulus.  Fatigue dulls our senses, and slows our ability to take in and process critical information.
  • Diminished judgment – As we continuously receive stimuli, we need to select which ones to pay attention to, and what to do about them. Fatigue reduces our ability to “make the right call.”
  • Impaired ability to respond to stimuli – Fatigue simply results in a slower reaction time; it’s the difference between a thankful near miss and a costly fender bender.  In worse situations, fatigued operators have totally failed to respond to a stimulus – didn’t see it, didn’t hear it, and made no reaction to avoid the moose, or the school bus.
  • Reduced human performance in the areas of problem-solving abilities, mental arithmetic, cognitive reasoning and manual dexterity.
  • Reduced ability to judge distance, speed, and time.
  • Forgetting or ignoring normal checks or procedures, and inaccurate recall of operational events.

A recent study found that fatigue depreciates one’s ability to correctly comprehend situations. It can cause us to be physiologically unable to conceive a negative outcome. Drivers can be so tired they can’t see the hazards and can’t understand how they can translate to an incident.  Seeing no possibility of a negative consequence causes further erratic behaviour. It can be like invincibility... on Red Bull. And that can be a lethal driving attitude.

How Can You Identify Fatigue?
There are a variety of clues that provide physical evidence of a fatigued driver.

  • Frequent yawning, heavy eyelids, long blinks, head nodding, slumping or leaning posture.
  • Fidgeting, feeling irritable, bored or depressed, and daydreaming.
  • Inability to remember the last few kilometres.
  • Difficulty concentrating or carrying on a conversation.
  • Tailgating, drifting over the centre line or on to the shoulder.
  • Varying vehicle speed for no apparent reason.
  • Misjudging or miscalculating traffic situations.
  • Seeing things “jump out” along the road, being surprised by roadside events or features.

Increasingly, there are electronic devices employed to identify and monitor fatigue. Most use one of two approaches – measuring eye, eyelid or head movements plus other physiological changes (for example, gaze tracking), or driver performance as measured by vehicle movements (for example, track steering inputs, lateral movements, following distance, etc.). Some larger fleets are using a few of these products and finding them helpful particularly when linked to GPS technologies – letting a dispatcher in Calgary know when their driver in Fort St. John seems to be nodding off, and enabling them to send the driver a message.

Seeing Machines offers one such product, the DSS suite, which uses face tracking techniques to deliver information on operator fatigue and operator distraction.

How Can You Manage Fatigue?
About now you’re probably thinking, “So what, I am like every other trucker. Fatigue is simply part of my world.” You’re right. In one survey of B.C. truckers, including log haulers, 100% acknowledged they have driven their truck while fatigued. But they also recognized that it was a key variable that’s in their control. Here are a few of the tools you can use to manage fatigue.

Optimize Sleep Opportunities
Managing your sleep schedule around the clock will make an enormous difference to your susceptibility to drowsiness. Tips for sleeping better include:

  • Aim to achieve seven or eight hours of quality sleep out of every 24-hour cycle.
  • Catch up on sleep during the weekend.
  • Try to maintain consistent wake-up and bed times each workday.
  • Keep your bedroom dark and the curtains closed to keep out light.
  • Create a consistent pre-bed routine during which you wind down and relax.
  • Create a quiet and comfortable sleep environment.
  • Avoid caffeine later in the day.
  • Don’t use alcohol as a sleep aid.

Nap When You Need To
Napping is one of the most effective ways to combat drowsiness. When planning a nap during your shift, remember:

  • Power naps of 15-30 minutes seem most helpful in overcoming drowsiness.
  • Don’t exceed this duration unless there is time for a full sleep cycle, in which case a 1.5- to two-hour nap is recommended.

Allow at least 10-15 minutes after waking up to fully recover alertness before starting to drive.

Work With Your Natural Circadian Rhythms
These are physical, mental and behavioural changes – body temperature, hormone secretion, metabolism, and sleep patterns – that occur on roughly a 24-hour cycle. Each of us is more or less hard-wired around a 24-hour cycle and is stimulated by environmental cues – primarily light and dark.

Inattention due to fatigue occurs more frequently when drivers work through the night in opposition to their body’s normal circadian rhythm. If we are “programmed” to be more active and alert during daylight hours, it makes sense to try to arrange your day to make the most of available daylight. There are only about eight hours of daylight during northern winters. Getting up at 10 p.m. and getting done at noon means you’re doing more than 70% of your work when your body thinks it should be asleep. Sure, someone has to load first, and being lead dog has its benefits, but if the scales were open a couple hours later to accommodate the last truck, would that enable you to sleep in until midnight, and then do only 50% of your job in the dark?

Identify and Manage Sleep Disorders
If your significant other is complaining about your increasingly loud snoring, it’s probably time to check with your doctor for a second opinion. Sleep apnea is common. A 2002 study of 3.4 million U.S. truckers found that about 26% of them were suffering from some form of sleep apnea. A more recent Pennsylvania study found that sleep apnea impacts some 35% of those truckers. 

Fortunately, there are effective techniques to identify and overcome sleep apnea and other disorders. A few large trucking companies have funded significant internal initiatives, and found the investment is paying back big dividends – particularly “reduced crash frequency and severity” in their fleets. Insurance companies are also beginning to pay attention to the relationship between sleep disorders and crashes, and are considering both positive and negative incentives to urge truckers and trucking companies to grapple with sleep disorders.  

If you would like to learn more about sleep disorders, talk to your doctor. You can also check out a variety of organizations or websites such as the BC Lung Association (

Healthy Lifestyle
Like your rig, your body needs a good supply of quality fuel to be at its best. That means a well-balanced diet of wholesome carbohydrates, proteins and a few fats delivered over the course of your day. Start with a good breakfast. Feed the machine during the day. A small snack of fruits and vegetables every two hours has been shown to help log haulers avoid fatigue and speed their reaction time (learn more about this study and the Fit to Drive program through the BC Forest Safety Council).  

Although it’s far better to get required vitamins and minerals through a healthy diet, if you are coming up short, consider a multi-vitamin supplement to maintain the balance. Keep hydrated, and choose water over energy drinks laced with sugars and other nasty chemicals that leave you feeling crashed out. Find a way to squeeze in exercise each day – a few sit-ups when you check your brakes, a stroll while you wait to load or unload, a few stretches as you get in and out of the truck, a few flexes as you drive down the road – it all helps avoid fatigue, and keeps you sharp.

Run Quality Equipment
When your days are already long, time spent fixing things at the shop or on the side of the road usually translates to a missed trip, or fewer hours of sleep.  Checking your equipment daily provides the opportunity to identify and repair little things before they become costly big things. And when you are running an effective preventive maintenance program, you will probably sleep better knowing your equipment is consistently up to the demands of hauling logs.  

Flexible Scheduling
Try rotating the loading order. Because it seems the first few trucks have a smoother day than the last few trucks, this gives everyone a shot at finishing their 13-hour day in 13 hours, rather than 15, or 16.  If the last few trucks are always the same drivers, their longer days translate to rapid fatigue accumulation. And that can
become your problem – what if that tired driver misses your “Down at 13” call, and you both wind up in the weeds?

Be Realistic
Hours of service rules and regulations are based on study after study that suggests 14 hours is a long enough day. Beyond that the likelihood of a costly error increases significantly. Plan your work so you can maximize your productivity without exceeding your limit. 

Knowing the signs and consequences of driving while fatigued seems to not be enough for all drivers and employers to manage it effectively – there are plenty of knowledgeable operators who still choose to drive while drowsy. Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators research found that perhaps the largest determinant in making that decision can be traced back to the macro-ergonomics of the industry – the pay structure, shipper requirements, receiver requirements, company policies ­ which seem to work against truckers getting a good night’s rest. Surely there are things that individual truckers can do to manage fatigue in their work day, but there are also ways industry can demonstrate its safety leadership, and contribute to a resilient and reliable log-hauling industry.

Consider ways in which your shipping or receiving requirements can be adjusted without detrimentally impacting your facility’s needs. Can adjusting scale hours help?  Lengthy delays in the mill yard are probably not passed directly on to your firm. But, over time, drivers recognize they are incurring time and effort for which they are not being paid, and the eyes of high-calibre drivers start to wander to other employers eager to attract and retain them. Can your competitive advantage be superior planning that helps your contractors achieve adequate phase separation so that they don’t have to load out first round before the processor starts at 5 a.m.? Can we help co-ordinate trucks among contractors so that everyone gets a 12- to 14-hour day, rather than some working a nine-hour day, and others working a 16-hour? Can an integrated dispatching system be employed to help truckers do what they do best without compromising their fatigue limits? The forest industry has done an admirable job of optimizing sawmill processes, so it is highly likely that we can co-operate to realize similarly advantageous efficiencies in the fibre procurement side.

An effective fatigue management strategy has responsibilities and rewards for each of us – drivers, owners, licensees, shippers and receivers.  It’s not realistic to place the responsibility only on the shoulders of log haulers. Certainly, there are key steps that truckers can and should take to manage their workday to ensure that fatigue does not contribute to a costly error. There are also opportunities and accountabilities for industry leaders to search for ways to design, or redesign, the systems within which log haulers operate, to contribute to their individual success, and to ensure a log-hauling community that will deliver logs safely, and sustainably ... in spite of the January thaw.


Rick Walters is director of transportation safety at the BC Forest Safety Council. He researched and produced this article for Canadian Forest Industries.

The great popularity of pickup trucks in Canada can be traced directly to the nature of business we do in this wide, vast country. Primary industries like forestry, mining, farming and construction, and the businesses affiliated with these sectors, are widespread and demand the use of trucks – but we all know it goes deeper than that. For so many people over the decades, pickups have been both work vehicles and a means of personal transportation and Canadians have grown to love them for the flexibility they offer. 

This duality of purpose is the key reason the Canadian Truck King Challenge evaluates trucks under loaded, harsh conditions – because that’s the way you use them.

This Year’s Winner
So, first off, let me congratulate the folks at Ram, whose 2012 Ram 1500 was selected as the winner of the Fifth Annual Canadian Truck King Challenge.  Now, let me tell you why.

The Big Three all had trucks in this year’s challenge, along with entries from Toyota and Nissan.

What we concentrated on first for 2012 was evaluating those half-ton pickups that fill the bulk of the market. We had pickups from the veteran three – Ford, GM and Chrysler, as well as the Toyota Tundra and Nissan Titan, which are two trucks that very much want to be thought of as North American. Next we set up a full tow test to work the trucks. Now, we always tow, but this year thanks to partnering with Campkins RV Centre, we were able to secure five travel trailers, each with a net weight of right around 8,000 lb., and do all our towing back to back at the same time. To be dead fair to all of the truck competitors, we also borrowed five brand-new equalizing hitches from Equal-i-zer. These spread the load across the chassis of each truck and achieved a level attitude for each entire rig regardless of the various wheelbase lengths.  

This aspect of a pickup’s ability has become more and more important in recent years as (according to manufacturer stats) the number of owners who tow regularly has increased right across the country – in fact, most consumers will have noted that manufacturers regularly advertise the weight-bearing abilities of their vehicles; limits that also seem to go higher and higher each year.  I chose 8,000 lb. as I knew each truck could handle it (according to its published specifications), yet this weight approached the upper limits set by the truck companies. Four tons is not peanuts and how a truck tows reveals a lot about its overall chassis and powertrain performance.

The Challengers
Our five competitors this year were:

  • 2011 Ford F-150, Crew Cab, 4WD, Platinum, 3.5L EcoBoost V6, six-speed automatic – MSRP $64,449
  • 2012 Toyota Tundra, Double Cab, 4WD, TRD Off-road Package, 5.7L i-Force V8, six-speed automatic – MSRP $43,975
  • 2012 Nissan Titan, 4-door Cab, 4WD, SL CC, 5.6L V8, five-speed automatic – MSRP $52,228
  • 2012 Ram 1500, Crew Cab, 4WD, Laramie, 5.7L Hemi V8, six-speed automatic – MSRP $54,825
  • 2012 GMC Sierra 1500, Crew Cab, 4WD, SLE, Vortec 5.3L V8 (w/active fuel management), six-speed automatic – MSRP $52,915

These trucks were picked by the manufacturers. They chose engines, transmissions, trim packages and the drivetrain. They also chose how they were equipped and what price range they fell into. They know what tests we run and spec the trucks to their advantage (however they see that advantage).

All of our test trucks were 2012 models, except the Ford, which was a 2011; though a 2012 would have had no substantial changes from the truck we did test.

Our Judges
The judges for this year’s competition were average Canadian truck owners. Men and women just like our readers. Ed C is a serving Royal Canadian Air Force warrant officer with years of pickup and towing experience. Ed D is a 30-year veteran Toronto Transit Commission driver with his own RV towing history.  Matt E, a 20-something driver for waste management has driven trucks and towed since he was first licensed. 

Of course, there is me (it is my event, after all) and Jil Macintosh, an automotive journalist for the Toronto Star newspaper. Jil has been helping me judge trucks since the first Challenge back in ’06.

We five drivers cycled through the five trucks and trailers over a 300-kilometre route that included a long portion of hilly terrain up through Ontario’s Haliburton Highlands, in torrential rain, no less (we call this the “Truck King Curse” as we have never had dry weather for the Challenge), and with grades of up to 9%.

A full day was spent towing these trailers on main and secondary roads – with a final section of highway where speeds of at least 100 km/h were maintained. After returning the trailers, we re-fuelled and calculated real-world towing fuel consumption. And that was just our first 10-hour day.

Something else new this year was the spreading of the pain during testing. Wives, girlfriends and one husband accompanied the judges and they were more than vocal in adding their opinions and observations to those of the drivers – plus they got stuck making all of the notes.  

The second morning, the rain stopped for a while and we headed to RoofMart in Oshawa, Ont., where we picked up pallets of roof shingles, supplied by IKO, and drove a 200-kilometre route with this 1,800-lb. payload on each of the trucks. We kept track of the fuel consumption during this test as well.  

Finally, we drove the trucks empty for 150 kilometres and finished with an off-road section that unfortunately was
interrupted by an Act of God this year. The abandoned Colonization Road I use, near Head Lake, Ont., was blocked by downed trees. Too bad, because it’s a very nasty, muddy bit of off-road terrain.

So as darkness closed in on our second long day of testing, the judges agreed that because we weren’t able to cycle everyone through the pickups in the equal time allotments needed, the off-road criteria would not be scored and we dropped the category from this year’s winning calculation. 

The following graphs reflect the actual scores awarded by the judges (three categories – 0-10), and their personal overall choices (first through fifth). We have our opinions and you’ll have yours, but we feel that we have come by these honestly, and we share them with our readers here.


 Howard Elmer is a truck and ATV writer living in rural Ontario. He produced this report for Canadian Forest Industries.

After being crowned the winner in the HD version of the Canadian Truck King Challenge in the fall of 2010, I asked GM to provide me with a truck for long-term testing and in January they obliged. This would be the 2011 HD Chevrolet Silverado, a truck that just last year was completely overhauled – starting with the chassis and working up to the engine packages. Over the six months, I put 14,000 km on the truck. It went back with 27,000 km on the engine. It had one oil change while I had it (now due for another) and I’ve had to add DEF (diesel emissions fluid).

In 2008, in the face of a global economic meltdown, Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) made the decision to axe the Sterling truck brand. It also decided, after much scrutiny, not only to save Western Star from the guillotine but also to inject some cash into the brand and give it a dedicated team of engineers and marketers.

Sometimes small is beautiful. That certainly rings true when it comes to live logging events like DEMO International. The more action and gear you can pack into a tight loop, the better for everyone.

Maybe Kermit the Frog had it right when he said “it’s not easy being green.” Certainly, log haulers would have to agree after several rounds of government-driven, emissions-related up-charges have jacked up the costs of new trucks while offering little in return in the way of improved reliability or performance.
The first of three rounds with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-related technological changes came in 2002, when all engine manufacturers but Caterpillar adopted exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) to reduce oxides of nitrogen (NOx). Caterpillar, for its part, came out with its own technology dubbed ACERT, and even though it spent several years and millions of dollars looking at EGR, the company decided to stay on its own path.

There are few applications, if any, that are more gruelling for commercial truck tires than logging. And so you could forgive a logger for being cynical about the reliability and practicality of retreads. But what highway fleets have learned, and some off-road fleets as well, is that there’s simply no more effective way to reduce your tire costs than by investing in brand name tires and getting multiple uses out of the casings.

For 2011, the Canadian Truck King Challenge was a heavy duty event that took advantage of the fact that three Detroit builders each unveiled a new Heavy Duty pickup truck in the past year: a rare occurrence. These trucks – the Chevy Silverado HD, Ford Super Duty and Ram HD – were each delivered as crew cab diesel-powered versions. The three were similar in most respects and the tests were conducted back to back and all on the same day. As always, we tested at our private IronWood test facility near Head Lake, Ont.

With a mandate to promote education within the forest industry, the PLC show in Oregon gave school kids a good look at career opportunities.

Not to diminish the difficulties Canada’s forest industry is currently facing, but if you think you’ve got it rough, talk to one of your truckers. In addition to dealing with all the recessionary challenges that are currently facing forest companies, truckers have their own issues to contend with.

Just under two months before the doors open for the Resources Expo in Prince George, B.C., all indications are that the three-day event will be a major success.
The show, which will run from June 3 to 5, is the first event to place all of the province’s central and northern major resource industries under one roof. The show will also include a face-to-face job opportunity and training component.

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