At the end of a late fall workday in the eastern U.S., a driver was backing his tractor and empty log trailer into his driveway off a rural two-lane road. It was clear, dry, and dark outside.
The 51-year-old owner/operator had driven log trucks for more than 20 years. He had no known physical disabilities and had been involved in one auto accident in the past four years. His driveway was located on a flat, straight stretch of road.
UNSAFE ACTS AND CONDITIONS:
The driver’s residence did not include a circular driveway or turnaround area, so the driver needed to stop in the roadway and back into his driveway. There was no street light or other illumination at the entrance to his driveway. Although the log trailer was new, dirt and mud were covering much of the reflective tape on the log trailer. The driver did not use a spotter or any other method to warn approaching vehicles on the roadway.
The truck driver was blocking the rural road in the dark as he backed into his driveway. A passenger vehicle approached from the opposite direction and did not notice the tractor-trailer soon enough. The passenger vehicle ran underneath the side of the log trailer.
The log truck driver was uninjured. However, the driver of the passenger vehicle was pinned inside her vehicle and had to be extracted by firefighters. She received multiple fractures and contusions and required extensive medical treatment.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CORRECTION:
1. Wash the trailer regularly so that the effectiveness of the reflective tape is not compromised.
2. If backing is necessary, use a spotter with a flashlight or other light along the roadway to warn any potential approaching vehicles. (Do not assume that other drivers will be alert and careful.)
3. Magnetic, battery-operated beacon/flashing lights for the trailer or cab can be purchased for use during low-visibility situations.
4. The best solution is to install a circular drive or turnaround area at the driver’s residence (to eliminate backing in) or find an alternative location to park the tractor-trailer.
5. If backing is necessary, install a street light at the entrance to the driveway to provide better illumination of the truck when it is backing into the driveway.
Southwide Safety Committee;
Rick Meyer, Appalachian/Southwide Region Manager