Log trucking big challenge for industry

Louisiana is a great wood basket. Many forest landowners have lots of trees at different stages of growth, loggers can harvest them efficiently and mills are ready to process the wood, turning the fiber into all kinds of products people use every day.

Getting the logs to the mills, however, is getting to be more of a challenge.

Over the past several years, loggers have had dynamics change that make it more difficult to get the wood to the mills. The cost of insurance is increasing. Also, the average age of log truck drivers is rising and there are fewer younger drivers to replace them. Those issues are causes for concern.

A presentation put together by David Cupp, who heads the Insurance Task Force for the Louisiana Forestry Association, describes rather bluntly the state of log trucking in Louisiana:

• Top 5 for insurance rates in the nation.

• Truck insurance renewal increases range from 20-100 percent.

• Competition for drivers with oil field, chicken farms and gravel haulers.

• A favorable climate for lawsuits involving heavy trucks.

• Increase in costs to repair vehicles.

• Distracted drivers, both in the trucks and in many other vehicles on the road.

The recruiting drivers is equally challenging. In 2017, there were 11 log truck driver fatalities. Also, the average life expectancy for a log truck driver is estimated at 62 years old.