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Each spring, convoys of workers head off across Canada and into the north to plant trees and pursue other jobs in the woods. Often this involves driving routes they’ve never travelled, taking their first trip down a logging road, and dealing with conditions that can test the range and reliability of their vehicles.



Unfortunately, over the years, there have been numerous examples of people having tragic accidents or expensive and avoidable breakdowns that have ruined their work season. There are many things that drivers can do to ensure they and their passengers arrive safely at their destinations.


1.


Give yourself extra time if driving unfamiliar roads. Being in a rush increases the chances of making a mistake. DON’T DRIVE TIRED.


2.


Map out your route before you leave to identify safe rest spots, identify and avoid major traffic delays and construction line-ups, and set reasonable goals for each day or partial day of travel.


3.


If you are sharing driving duties with another person, help keep each other awake. We have seen tragedy happen with people trying to tag-team the cross-Canada drive in record time. It is always best if at least two people are awake when driving. So, try to drive in the daylight. Arrive well-rested for your first day of work and avoid driving in the dangerous “witching hours” of dusk and dawn where wildlife collisions are more likely, and drivers may fall asleep. This changing of the light is also referred to as “l’heur entre chien et loup”, when we encounter uncertainty in our our ability to perceive the world around us.


4.


Go over your vehicle before you leave. If you’re not experienced with automotives, consider having an inspection done by a mechanic or trusted friend/family member with appropriate knowledge. Check the tire tread depth and air pressure, filters, lights, brake systems, fluids, gauges, battery and connections, clean the glass inside and out, and check out any rattles. It is better to fix any problems before your leave than be looking for a part halfway between Medicine Hat and Crowfoot. Remember to keep checking your vehicle throughout the season, and don’t forget the little things such as ensuring your mirrors, window glass, and all your lights are clear and visible before each drive and before you turn off a dirt road onto the highway. You can also ask a more experienced driver at your camp or job site to show you how to do a proper pre-trip inspection on your own vehicle.


5.


If you are required to travel on resource roads (forestry roads) to reach your camp, contact your employer in advance so you can join a convoy of other vehicles. Forestry roads are frequently travelled by logging trucks, mining trucks, and other heavy industrial traffic that can be dangerous if you suddenly encounter them as you come around a corner. Special radios are often required for communication between vehicles to prevent accidents. Be aware that forestry roads may be rougher than the roads you normally drive, and in some cases, it may be better for you (and for your vehicle) to leave your own wheels at home or at the company base and get a ride in a company truck.



6.


If you have never travelled on resource roads, you should familiarize yourself with the basics of this activity. Driving on gravel is different than driving on pavement, and it takes the right knowledge and careful practice to do this safely. This is a free online resource road driver knowledge-course available from the BC Forest Safety Council to help develop knowledge of resource road driving. While this course alone does not make you safe on the logging roads, it can be helpful for newer drivers and workers that may have opportunities to take on driving positions with their company. This is another video on resource road safety.



7.


Consider investing in a roadside assistance package, such as BCAA Premiere. These packages often come with extra perks and discounts and can save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars in the case that you need roadside repairs or a tow-truck ride to the nearest town.


8.


If travelling as a passenger, try to get rides with people you know. Hitchhiking is risky, and many young people have gone missing on the highways, particularly in Northern BC. If you are having trouble finding a ride, check in with your employer and see if any co-workers are headed out from your area.


9.


If you absolutely MUST hitchhike, try not to go it alone, listen to your instincts and say “no thanks” to anyone that gives a strange vibe. Before you get in any vehicle, take a picture of the plate and text it to a friend or family member. Try not to accept food or drink from anyone that picks you up.


10.


Be prepared. Have a roadside repair kit that includes food, water, tools, and a way to call or signal for help, and ensure your spare tire and jack are intact and ready for use. A helpful list of key items is provided below, to help new and experienced drivers prepare themselves for the road ahead.

Key Items List:


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Top 10 Tips For a Safe Trip to Work

Getting to a forestry worksite can involve driving long hours, new routes, and navigating logging roads. Getting there safely is essential.

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