Putting the brakes on rollaways

6 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineMarch 11, 2020

 Imagine a reverse warning buzzer, just a lot more serious.

A leading-edge safety system designed to prevent truck rollaways is now being trialled by Higgins in Palmerston North.

Designed by Australian company SGESCO-MAX, the MAX-SAFE Anti-Rollaway Brake System provides insurance against driver oversight, as an active safety solution in the event of a driver neglecting to fully apply the park brake before exiting their vehicle.

If the vehicle‘s park brake is not fully activated and the vehicle‘s door is opened, the system emits an intermittent audible alarm to warn the driver and bystanders of a potential rollaway situation. If the driver ignores this warning and exits the vehicle, the audible alarm turns from intermittent to constant and the MAX-SAFE Anti-Rollaway Brake System activates the vehicle‘s park brake.

The audible alarm is designed to be louder and harsher than a standard reversing beep to ensure it was noticed and make people turn to see what was happening.

Marc McPherson, SGESCO-MAX‘s head of engineering and research & development, says an audible alarm draws attention to a vehicle, in turn helping to change driver behaviour. 

Engineers from the NZ Transport Agency‘s vehicle standards and guidelines division following the trial are currently looking at all safety options and applications of the system.

AutoKraft Electrical and Diesel in Palmerston North is an authorised distributor for the MAX-SAFE Anti-Rollaway Brake System. AED‘s director, Gary Puklowski, says he saw a real need for this technology in New Zealand and that the system could be fitted on new trucks during the chassis build or retrofitted to older trucks.

SGESCO-MAX‘s head of engineering and research & development Marc McPherson says that there have been numerous deaths in Australia due to trucks rolling away after not having the park brake applied. This led SGESCO-MAX to design the MAX-SAFE Anti-Rollaway Brake System, which has now been in use in Australia for more than 18 years.

Marc says if a truck begins rolling away, drivers are instinctively more likely to do everything they can to get away from the truck than get back in and apply the park brake.

“Investigations have highlighted that in a majority of vehicle rollaway incidents, the park brake had not been applied prior to the operator exiting the vehicle. SGESCO-MAX developed an active system that will first alert the driver and those around the vehicle, and then apply the park brake if the driver exits the vehicle without first applying the park brake.”

He says history has shown that the audible alarm sounding does draw attention to the vehicle, and this in turn helps to change driver behaviour, allowing them to learn from their mistake and avoid it happening again.

In-cab control module.

In Australia the MAX-SAFE Anti-Rollaway Brake System has mainly been installed on vehicles in the waste industry, but Marc says it is a great safety device for any vehicles working in any industry, as the impact of vehicle rollaway at any time can be fatal. He‘s hoping insurance companies will view it the same way they view anti-theft alarms and consider reduced premiums for vehicles that have the MAX-SAFE Anti-Rollaway Brake System fitted.

The system has an interactive control screen inside the vehicle cab, enabling user-friendly driver interaction with the MAX-SAFE Anti-Rollaway Brake System and simple real-time system status display.

Marc says that the next generation of the system will integrate with the vehicle‘s telematics system, providing measurable and verifiable data for analysis.

“We see this as an exciting progression of the product helping individuals and organisations in OH&S compliance.”

In-cab control module.

While the system is not designed to replace a traditional park brake, which remains the responsibility of the driver to ensure the vehicle is secure before exiting, Marc says it does provide insurance against driver oversight. 

“We see it primarily as an educational system with active capability – one that reminds drivers to put their park brake on before they undo their seat belt, open the door and exit the vehicle.”

Available for both pneumatic and mechanical/cardan shaft park brake equipped vehicles, the MAX-SAFE Anti-Rollaway Brake System is perfect for commercial vehicles of all kinds.