RR1069 Establishing direct and contributory factors to the uncontrolled movement of Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) during coupling and uncoupling

A number of fatal or major vehicle incidents are reported to the Health and Safety Executive and local authorities every year where heavy good vehicle drivers have been injured during the coupling and/or uncoupling of the tractor and the trailer unit. When coupling and uncoupling the trailer to and from the tractor unit, the parking brakes on both units should be applied to ensure that neither unit is able to move in an uncontrolled manner. Unintended movement is known as a vehicle runaway.

The study explored the factors that contribute to vehicle runaways using a multi-method approach, which included:

  1. conducting a literature search,
  2. reviewing relevant incidents reported under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations,
  3. carrying out an online consultation survey of trade association members, and
  4. conducting interviews with drivers, supervisors and manufacturers.

Failure to apply the cab handbrake and/or trailer parking brake was identified as the primary reason contributing to vehicle runaways. A combination of individual, job and organisational factors were identified as affecting drivers' behaviours, and particularly the extent to which the cab handbrake and/or trailer parking brake would be applied. Provision of easily accessible controls, physical solutions (eg interlocks, cab alarms), supervision and raising risk awareness were control measures identified that could help prevent vehicle runaways.

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Updated 2021-04-15