Use your handbrake - it could save a life

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Martin Smith

Pegasus Couriers MD

Handbrake safety - always use your handbrake to avoid runaway vehicles

Handbreak safety is becoming increasingly important, given the severity of the injuries that a rollaway vehicle can cause.
In the case of rollaway vehicles, handbrakes can be the difference between a minor incident and a tragedy. It is vital drivers know what to do to prevent an accident. Here I will give you some information and tips on rollaway vehicles.

Faults lead to rollaway vehicles.

A vehicle handbrake, known as an emergency brake or parking brake, is a mechanical device to stop a vehicle from rolling. Using the handbrake when parking your vehicle is important to prevent rollaway vehicles, which can potentially have devastating consequences for drivers, pedestrians and other road users.

A slight incline or even just an uneven road surface can be enough to start a vehicle moving. 

A 2013 study from the University of Leeds states: 

“When the brakes cool down, the braking force reduces due to relaxation of the entire parking brake system, and the vehicle may start to move, leading to obvious catastrophic consequences. The likelihood of rollaway occurring was found to be directly linked to the temperature of the brake when the vehicle is parked.”

Remember HIT when you park

Reduce your chance of a rolling vehicle incident but using the HIT – Handbrake On, Vehicle in Gear, Turn The Wheels when parking

  • When putting your handbrake on, do not press the button when applying.
  • Keep a parked vehicle in first gear if facing uphill or on level ground, and use reverse if facing downhill.
  • Turn the wheels away from a curb when facing uphill and towards it downhill.

Never try to physically stop a rolling vehicle !!

Pegasus Couriers van driving

Do not become complacent - follow HIT

No matter what the cause, a vehicle rolling away can be a disaster.
A survey revealed that about 8% of drivers and 13% of Approved Driving Instructors had experienced a vehicle rollaway event.
The findings suggest that an experience relating to break failure will statistically influence whether the driver complied with recommended practices, such as leaving the vehicle in gear.

Another study found that drivers who travelled a short commute would leave the parking brake lever to the lowest position and not put the vehicle in gear.

Health and Safety vs Rollaway Vehicles

Most transport companies ensure staff comply with Health and Safety policies, including basic driver training. 

At Pegasus Couriers, we provide Health and Safety training to ensure drivers are up to speed with the latest industry trends. In addition, all delivery drivers are briefed on the best protocols to eliminate rollaway incidents. My best advice is to check your handbrake regularly, get any defects repaired immediately and follow the HIT process.
Drivers must remember that their handbrake is there for a reason – not just another lever in your car.
It should always be used when parking, no matter how short the distance or how long you will be away from your vehicle. So whenever you get behind the wheel, make sure that you use your handbrake!


By following these simple tips, you can help to prevent a rollaway vehicle accident. Remember, using your handbrake only takes seconds but could save a life.


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