Safety, defensive driving matter on forest roads all year round

logging truck versus car
Be alert for logging trucks and other vehicles (large or small) on forest roads, including those maintained by DNR. Photo: USFS

As winter weather rolls into Washington state’s uplands and lowlands, it becomes even more important to drive defensively–forest roads are no exception. Don’t let the appearance of a quiet, unpaved forest road lull you into driving complacency. Most DNR recreation sites are on state trust lands where timber harvests and other leasing activities generate revenue for trust beneficiaries, including local schools. A loaded logging truck coming around a bend on a one-lane forest road can be a real scare. If you hear or see one, pull off to the side of the road in a designated pull out.

Because many DNR-maintained roads into the backcountry are mountain roads, expect to find many of them too narrow for two vehicles to pass easily and with sharp curves that may prevent you from seeing approaching traffic. Here are additional tips to be safe on forest roads:

  • Drive defensively: There may not be a lot of traffic but there will likely be other vehicles, such as other cars and trucks and, possibly,  logging trucks, road maintenance machinery, and other vehicles.
  • Obey the rules of the road. You may be in the middle of nowhere, but the rules of the road (and basic common sense) still apply.
  • Keep to the right.
  • Don’t drive in the dust, mud splatter or snow mist that is kicked up by other vehicles.
  • Be prepared. Expect to encounter rocks and boulders, road washouts, downed trees and other hazards.

Our Forest Road Survival Guide has more tips.