Royal Mail Group – Handbrake Safety and Avoiding Vehicle Roll Away Accidents – (SHE Huddle FY23 022 Rollaways) & RMG/CWU Joint Driver Safety Communication Campaign

Royal Mail Group – Handbrake Safety and Avoiding Vehicle Roll Away Accidents – (SHE Huddle FY23 022 Rollaways) & RMG/CWU Joint Driver Safety Communication Campaign:

Background and Raising Awareness

See attached RMG SHE Huddle FY23 022 Vehicle Rollaways and supporting Driver Safety Communication Campaign materials which is being issued week commencing 10 April to all fleet operational units for briefing and communication to all drivers.

This follows the ongoing problems with van rollaway incidents and the profound dangers of injury, death and serious substantial damage to Royal Mail vehicles and third party vehicles and property.

This Safety SHE Huddle, accompanied with a reminder to deliver the briefing to drivers in the RMG SHE Calendar along with a poster and ‘HIT’ leaflet/vehicle seat drop will be launched week commencing 10 April and messages via unit plasma screens will be shared on the content on demand screens.

The campaign, briefing, posters, leaflets and plasma screen messages reinforce the ‘mandatory controls’ required when parking Royal Mail Group and Parcelforce fleet vehicles, to eliminate vehicle roll-away incidents.

RMG Vehicle Rollaway Numbers:

2014   –   200

2015   –   116

2016   –   155

2017   –   127

2018   –   145

2019   –   109

2020   –   163

2021   –   135

All drivers must adopt the safety standards to prevent vehicle rollaway 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 rollaways.

This Safety Huddle plus multi-media communications is to raise awareness of all drivers, urging them to follow the ‘HIT’ Acronym ‘Handbrake On, Vehicle in Gear, Turn The Wheels’ when parking their vans and lorries. 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 they 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 Royal Mail delivery drivers and to promote ‘HIT’. 

  • Handbrake On 
  • In Gear 
  • Turn the Wheels 

SHE Huddle FY23 022 – Key Points And Messages

All drivers should be aware of the mandatory requirement to follow ‘HIT’, every time they park, regardless of whether they are parking on a hill. This is included in Royal Mail training, in the Driving Safe System of Work and is regularly communicated

Handbrake on – apply the handbrake FULLY, pulling it all the way up on the ratchet (click, click, click!). 

In Gear (or ‘Park’ mode) – even if the handbrake fails, your van will not move if it is in gear.  

Turn Wheels – use the kerb to ‘chock’ your wheels or if there is no kerb present, turn to the place of least danger.

  • Drivers – DON’T try to stop a rolling vehicle. You are unlikely to be able to and this is the most common way to get injured or even killed.
  • Always complete your pre-use vehicle checks and report any handbrake defect.
  • NEVER drive an unroadworthy vehicle.
  • Familiarise yourself with the vehicle before you depart. If you are driving a new vehicle, make sure you know where the handbrake is and how it operates. Newer vehicles may have electronic park brakes or even automatic park brakes.
  • Why is this so important? Do we have to talk about this every year?
  • Whilst progress has been made in recent years, there are still over 100 rollaways every year. These are entirely avoidable events which cause damage to vehicles and property and which have caused serious injury and even death.
  • If everybody follows ‘HIT’, every time they park their vehicle, there need never be another rollaway again.
  • If you see a colleague has not applied ‘HIT’, please remind them.
  • Why does it keep happening? The short answer is because not all drivers apply ‘HIT’ all the time. This can be for several different reasons: (a) Some drivers under-estimate the risk and think that the handbrake is sufficient to secure the vehicle. “It will never happen to me …”. In most cases the handbrake does hold but this builds false confidence and if the driver forgets to apply the handbrake, doesn’t secure it enough, or if the handbrake fails then the vehicle is free to roll away. That’s why this is a mandatory control. (b) Some drivers take short-cuts – there is very little time to be saved by not following ‘HIT’ but Royal Mail telemetry data shows a link between excessive idling and rollaways, and there have been numerous examples of vehicles rolling away whilst left with the door open and the engine running. This is an obvious security risk as well as a safety risk, and drivers rushing in this way are the most likely to forget the handbrake or not apply it fully. (c) Some just forget – there can be a lot going on when parking, especially when making a delivery, and it’s easy to lose concentration especially if you get distracted. It’s obviously important to focus on driving until the vehicle is safely parked up, but by making sure drivers follow ‘HIT’ every time they park they will quickly develop ‘muscle memory’ where they almost do it without thinking. This seriously reduces the chances of an error.

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, a PMT1 Defect Report should be completed, the vehicle must be taken out of service and booked into the Workshop immediately, using the defect/fault report process and not returned to service without expert technical clearance from the RM Fleet Workshops.
  • 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 Huddle message to all staff that drive Royal Mail Group Vehicles please.


  • Vehicle Rollaways – Joint RMG/CWU Rollaways Driver Safety Awareness raising Campaign Communication
  • SHE Huddle FY23 022 Rollaways
  • ‘HIT’ Flyer
  • ‘HIT’ Leaflet
  • Two Preventing Vehicle Rollaways – Screenshots

Yours sincerely

Dave Joyce
National Health, Safety & Environment Officer

LTB 088/23 – Royal Mail Group – Handbrake Safety and Avoiding Vehicle Roll Away Accidents – (SHE Huddle FY23 022 Rollaways)

Att: CWU RMG Joint Driver Safety Campaign

Att: SHE Huddle FY23 022 Rollaways (00000003)

Att: Driver division_Royal mail_HIT flyer_V2 (004)

Att: HIT Leaflet – May 2020

Att: 699949_08_ROLLAWAY_Poster

Att: 699949_08_ROLLAWAY_Screen_1360x768px_V1-2

View Online


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: