Post Office Ltd – Handbrake Safety and Avoiding Vehicle Roll Away Accidents: (POL/CWU Joint Driver Safety Alert Communication Campaign)

Post Office Ltd – Handbrake Safety and Avoiding Vehicle Roll Away Accidents: (POL/CWU Joint Driver Safety Alert Communication Campaign):

Background and Raising Awareness

The attached Post Office Ltd/CWU jointly supported Safety Alert Communication is being issued to all fleet operational units this week for immediate communication to drivers. This follows a recent incident when an unattended 5 tonne Sprinter van rolled away backwards down an inclined pavement, crashing into a retail fast food outlet shop front, causing serious damage to the shop premises and substantial damage to the vehicle. Thankfully, no-one was hurt in the incident, but clearly there could have been a much more serious outcome had pedestrians or children been in the path of the runaway vehicle.

This Safety Alert Communication reinforces the ‘mandatory controls’ required when parking Post Office Ltd 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 fatalities, involving other companies’ fleet vehicles and drivers.

In many rollaway accidents, investigations into the cause 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 vehicle roll-aways.

This safety communication is to raise awareness of all drivers, urging drivers 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.

Case Studies

Drivers can additionally place themselves at risk of prosecution by the Police for serious motoring offences action if drivers ignore and fail to comply with safety control instructions and road traffic act law. 

Case 1:

At Sevenoaks Magistrates’ Court Van driver 48-year-old Anthony Smith pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and was sentenced to 12 weeks’ imprisonment and was disqualified from driving for 12 months after Smith failed to apply the parking brake and his vehicle rolled away killing a nearby road worker who was unable to get out of the way and was trapped and crushed between the two vehicles. He sustained major head injuries and died at the scene.

Case 2: 

At Southwark crown court, 52-year-old Van driver Larkland May was handed a 32-week prison sentence, suspended for two years, ordered to complete 150 hours of unpaid community work, disqualified from driving for 3 years and ordered to pay £700 costs after he failed to apply the handbrake of his parcel delivery van which rolled away down a slope, crushing and killing two pedestrians as it struck a wall in Pudding Lane, near Monument in London. Both were declared dead at the scene. 

The ‘HIT’ Acronym

The attached Safety Alert Communication is being issued to ‘raise the profile of this risk’ to all Post Office Ltd Delivery Drivers and to promote ‘HIT’.

  • 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. Select Park in automatic vehicles.
  • 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 Workshop immediately, using the defect/fault report process.
  • Drivers should never try to physically stop a rolling vehicle.

CWU Reps Action

Can all CWU Representatives carry out safety spot checks to ensure that managers have communicated the Safety Alert message to all staff that drive Post Office Ltd vehicles please.


  • Vehicle Rollaways – Joint POL/CWU Driver Safety Alert and awareness raising Campaign Communication.

Yours sincerely

Dave Joyce
National Health, Safety & Environment Officer

LTB 078/23 Post Office Ltd – Handbrake Safety and Avoiding Vehicle Roll Away Accidents POL CWU Joint Driver Safety Alert Communication Campaign

Att: Vehicle Rollaways – POL – CWU Safety Alert V2

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