By TOBY WALKER
A SOUTH GRAFTON man has called for tougher regulations on trucks carrying unsecured loads after he was nearly killed by a log that fell from a truck on the Pacific Highway last Wednesday.
Phil Redpath was driving north near Bulahdelah around 5.20am as he passed a log-laden semi-trailer heading south up the hill at Waterholes Gap, about 2km south of the Nerong turnoff.
The first thing Mr Redpath noticed as the truck's cabin passed his line of sight was a log coming directly at him.
Without time to react, the log scythed underneath Mr Redpath's $60,000 late-model Holden Monaro, shattering its wheels and causing the car to become airborne.
"The log was literally sliding on the road and it went straight under the car like a grim reaper," he said.
"It was a 200km/h accident because the truck was doing 100km/h and I was doing 100km/h."
The next thing Mr Redpath recalled was finding himself fastened in by his seatbelt upside down in the car.
His vehicle had landed in the path of oncoming traffic, coming to rest on its roof in the southbound lane facing east towards a guard rail.
With several cuts to his head and body, abdominal pain and a mouthful of glass, Mr Redpath pulled himself from the wreckage through the driver's side window.
Luckily a Roads and Traffic Authority employee had been travelling behind Mr Redpath at the time of the accident and immediately pulled over to check he was alright before directing traffic around the crash scene.
Mr Redpath felt lucky to have escaped the accident without more serious injuries and believed the state-of-the-art safety technology in his eight-month old vehicle had saved his life.
Several days on, Mr Redpath is incensed by the truck driver's failure to stop after the incident.
"I guarantee he would have heard it and seen it because it's happened right at the back of the truck but he's just kept going," he said.
Mr Redpath believed more stringent regulations needed to be introduced that would provide a level of accountabilty for truck drivers carrying unsecured loads and prevent such accidents occurring in the future.
"I'm calling for regulators to ensure that these logging trucks in particular must chain down their loads and that the logs have some sort of tagging system on them so if they do fall off the back of a truck the driver can be quickly identified," he said.
Mr Redpath says the timber industry should ensure e logs are chained down.