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November 6, 2020 10:45 AM, EST

Mississippi DOT Cautions Drivers About Log Trucks

Logging truck Mississippi Department of Transportation via YouTube

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The Mississippi Department of Transportation has issued a notice reminding drivers to stay alert for log trucks, especially as people on the road adjust to the end of daylight saving time.

The notice, issued Nov. 4, urges drivers to be particularly careful at dawn and dusk. Throughout the year, MDOT requires log trucks to have a permit to be on the road two hours before sunrise and two hours after sunset. These trucks are permitted a 12-foot rear overhang, meant for logs that extend past the end of the vehicle.

During the day, log trucks must have a red flag attached to the end of the longest log they are carrying. At night, the trucks must have an amber or red flashing light fixed to the back of the longest log. MDOT has encouraged travelers to stay alert and leave enough space between vehicles, a practice that can help prevent crashes.

“To reduce the risk for potential crashes, we want to ensure the traveling public is aware of these log trucks and alert for them, especially during early evening and morning hours,” said Willie Huff, director of MDOT’s Office of Enforcement. “To report issues related to log trucks, please be sure to contact local law enforcement.”

The MDOT Office of Enforcement’s main responsibility is the regulation and safe operation of commercial motor vehicles on state and federal highways. The state’s regulations are designed to reduce crashes and fatalities, as well as preserve transportation infrastructure.

John Auel, assistant extension professor within Mississippi State University’s College of Forest Resources, said that logging operations occur over most of the state. He said the only areas that don’t experience a lot of forest harvesting are the “delta counties,” which are located along the Mississippi River in the northwestern part of the state.

According to the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce, there are 19.7 million acres of forestland in the state. Some 65% of Mississippi is covered in timber.

“It’s pretty much a year-round operation,” Auel told Transport Topics. “Obviously in the winter, we do get some rain and that limits it somewhat, but we usually find some dry ground to harvest on.”

Forestry and logging play important roles in Mississippi’s economy. (Forestry is the professional discipline of managing and protecting forest ecosystems. Logging refers to the practice of cutting down, processing and transporting trees.)

Jason Scott, director of information and outreach for the Mississippi Forestry Commission, said forestry has a $13 billion annual impact on Mississippi’s economy. He said forestry supports approximately 62,000 jobs in the state and provides about $2 billion in annual salaries and wages.

Auel said the state’s harvest averages about 32 million tons of product a year. In terms of transportation, Auel estimated this figure translates to about 25 tons per truck. He noted forestry represents the No. 2 agricultural commodity in the state (poultry is No. 1).

While most of the logs travel locally, Auel said some go to mill in Alabama, Louisiana and Tennessee.

“We have a pretty vibrant industry,” Auel said.

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