Preventing rollaways

In Product Profile, October 20225 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineNovember 13, 2022

There are many risks involved when operating a heavy vehicle. For example, drivers not correctly applying park brakes can lead to serious accidents and even fatalities.

In July, Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency issued a safety alert for owners and drivers of vehicles fitted with cardan shaft park brakes. Cardan shaft park brakes, also known as driveshaft park brakes, are fitted to many small to medium trucks and a small number of passenger service vehicles. The safety alert aims to raise awareness of the limitations of the brake mechanism, including the potential risks of parking on slopes.

The MAX-SAFE Anti-Rollaway Brake System is designed to alleviate these faults, applying the park brake if the driver doesn’t fully apply it when they leave the cab.

AutoKraft Electrical and Diesel in Palmerston North is the New Zealand importer and distributor for the MAX- SAFE Anti-Rollaway Brake System.

“It is critical that the Cardan shaft brake is applied to the correct level and maintained correctly,” says director Matt Rowe. “If it’s not applied with the correct force, the truck can roll away.

“The MAX-SAFE Anti-Rollaway system monitors the application of that. If it is not applied to the correct level, a pre-warning will sound when the driver’s door is opened. If the driver then gets up off the seat, it will fully apply the brake to the correct force.”

The MAX-SAFE Anti-Rollaway solution automatically raises the handbrake if the driver leaves the seat without applying it to the correct force.


According to Waka Kotahi, four incidents involving cardan shaft brakes in New Zealand have resulted in fatalities over the past decade, including brakes fitted to road vehicles as well as off-road equipment.

AutoKraft managing director Gary Puklowski says that while most larger companies are aware of the risks of rollaways, the reported amount is only about 3%.

“Potential rollaways are likely to be an unconfirmed weekly occurrence for any major fleet operator that has a substantial amount of vehicles on the road.

“It’s not something as an operator that you are going to report to your manager,” he says. “So the amount of reported cases is very low, and generally, the reported cases are the ones that end in some form of accident or damage to that vehicle or property.

“MAX-SAFE gives peace of mind – it’s a backup system so that if there is an error by the operator, it provides protection for that vehicle as well as the public.”

Puklowski says proactive companies are seeing the risks and using the MAX- SAFE product to mitigate them. “Any company that has had a rollaway, and there have been quite a few, they see it as a great product. The ones that are having problems generally jump on it,” he says.

“Unfortunately, some companies don’t give it the time of day or know about the solution, and it will be one of those situations where you’ll end up being the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff.”

Fleet rollouts

The team at AutoKraft works with transport operators to install the MAX- SAFE Anti-Rollaway system across their fleets. The solution works across all types of park-braking systems, including mechanical, pneumatic, and electronic.

“After speaking with the customer, we get an idea of what their fleet is like, what their requirements are, and from there we organise a trial system into a nominated vehicle,” says Puklowski. “After the trial, if the customer decides they want to continue with the solution, we’ll start installing it into the rest of their fleet.”

Several leading transport companies across a range of industries – from garbage collection to concrete – have incorporated the MAX-SAFE system into their fleets with the help of AutoKraft.

“We have some customers who are fitting the MAX-SAFE Anti-Rollaway solution to all of their new procurement vehicles, so all new vehicles coming into their fleet are receiving the product,” says Rowe.

“And then we have others who are putting it into their most high-risk vehicles first in a total fleet rollout.”

To learn more about the MAX-SAFE Anti-Rollaway Brake System, contact Matt Rowe at AutoKraft Electrical and Diesel on 027 208 2799.