Handbrake Safety & Avoiding Vehicle Roll Away Accidents

Following the continued problem of Royal Mail vehicles rolling away, with a worrying number over recent months, the attached Safety (SHE) Alert has been produced by the Royal Mail Safety Health & Environment (SHE) Team for immediate communication to all drivers in all offices.

This Safety Alert reinforces the ‘mandatory controls’ required when parking Royal Mail vehicles, to eliminate vehicle roll-away incidents. All drivers must adopt the safety standards to prevent vehicle roll-away incidents which can and have caused very serious injuries and even a fatality. Drivers can additionally place themselves at risk of prosecution by the Police for serious motoring offences and Royal Mail/Parcelforce may consider Conduct Code/Disciplinary Action if drivers ignore and fail to comply with safety control instructions.

Royal Mail report that accident investigations into roll away vehicle incidents have found that drivers generally do apply the handbrake in most cases but it’s not always fully applied and the drivers don’t leave the vehicle in gear or turn the wheels as an added safety precaution. If the driver makes an error applying the handbrake, if the handbrake is not fully applied or the handbrake fails, the vehicle can then roll away. There have been a worrying number of Royal Mail/Parcelforce vehicle roll-aways since 2014.  In conclusion, drivers are failing to follow the “HIT” Acronym “Handbrake On, Vehicle in Gear, Turn The Wheels” when parking their vans. A slight incline or even just an uneven road surface can be enough to start a vehicle moving. It’s important that the ‘HIT’ safety controls are ALWAYS applied, even on level ground to develop good practice and good, safe driving habits.

The attached Safety (SHE) Alert is being issued to ‘raise the profile of this risk’ to all Collection and Delivery Drivers and to promote “HIT”.

The “HIT” Acronym:

  • Handbrake On
  • In Gear
  • Turn the Wheels

Remember and Think “HIT”

The three controls required to fully and safely secure a vehicle so that it doesn’t roll away are:

  • ALWAYS apply the handbrake firmly – do not press the button when applying the handbrake.
  • ALWAYS leave the vehicle in a low gear – use first gear if facing uphill or on level ground, and use reverse if facing downhill.
  • ALWAYS turn the wheels – if a kerb is present turn away from it when facing uphill, and towards it if downhill. If there is no kerb turn towards the point of least danger (usually the side of the road).

If drivers suspect a vehicle handbrake is faulty, the vehicle must be taken out of service and booked into the Royal Mail Fleet Workshop immediately, using the PMT1 Fault Report process. Drivers should never try to physically stop a rolling vehicle.

Area Health and Safety Representatives carry out safety spot checks and inspections to ensure that managers have communicated the Safety Alert message to all staff that drive Royal Mail Collection and Delivery Vehicles please.

Royal Mail Vehicle Fleet Handbrake Safety Developments:

The Health, Safety and Environment Department has been in discussions with Royal Mail Fleet for some time, firstly looking at what Handbrake Safety Technology is available on the market which is simplistic in design but has been engineered to make an enhancement to fleet vehicle operational safety and secondly Royal Mail Fleet and the CWU have been conducting trials of three types of Handbrake Safety Systems.

Two types are being trialled on LGVs. These are the ‘DAF factory system’ and the ‘Vision Techniques BrakeSafe system’. These two systems automatically apply the handbrake/park brake if the driver leaves the vehicle without applying the brake. LGVs have an airbrake system and automatic application via these new safety systems is possible.

On the Light Commercial Van Fleet, the ‘TVG Parking Brake Safety System’ was initially, successfully trialled on 4 Royal Mail Peugeot Partner vans and the Trial has now been extended to a further 100 new Royal Mail VW Caddy vans and 1 Parcelforce Mercedes Sprinter van. This system consists of an Electronic Control Module and Sensor fitted in the Handbrake Mechanism. The electronic module detects when the vehicle door is opened and immediately checks the status of the mechanical handbrake sensor which will output a reading, having measured the amount of force applied to the handbrake lever and cables. If the electronic sensor and module detects that the amount of force applied to the handbrake has not reached the threshold and is insufficient to hold the vehicle firm when parked, an immediate loud audible alert will sound warning the driver to fully apply the handbrake to a point where the force exceeds the minimum threshold and the warning alert will then cease. Compared with existing standard systems where the driver is subjected to a repetitive automated reminder, this system will only ever voice a warning/reminder if the handbrake is not fully applied.