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Improving Safe Driving in the Forest

Last year the PF Olsen Zero Tolerance Committee commenced the ‘Safe Driving in Forest’ project.  It started as an urgent need to get improvement in this known area of risk - even though initially we weren't sure of how the whole programme would look. Assessment of current driver attitude and skill seemed logical as not only would it provide a benchmark of the current situation, we knew there would be the inevitable coaching effect during the assessment and debrief. With this in mind PF Olsen operational staff completed in-cab driver assessments in the field to identify those that may need further driver training.

Two qualified driving assessors drove with different PF Olsen staff over two days, on a route that covered town, highway and forest driving. Everyone set out mindful of the situation and therefore driving very carefully. However, the assessors are well-qualified and it was not long before the real driving style started to show; there is even rumour that a driver answered the mobile phone (hands free) and drove past a turn off.

One of the assessors, Trevor Neave, was a Fatal Crash Investigator for the New Zealand Police for 23 years. His advice on distractions such as phones is “let it go to voicemail, answer it when you are in a safe position to do so. No message is worth the potential bad outcome".

The programme is now being rolled out to harvesting and silviculture crews, with drivers of light vehicles from three harvesting crews participating to date.

Trevor was complimentary of the project and the concern shown for workers. He was also quick to point out that the standard of driving encountered amongst the crews so far is “brilliant, better than average; these guys could drive anything”. He was also impressed with the effort that crew managers had put into upskilling their drivers to get them to attain a higher class of licence.

The end goal is that with provision of assessment, training and information, the knowledge and skill levels of drivers will continue to rise, making everyone a safer driver in the forest. In Trevor’s words, “you are driving for you and your family".