How to Prevent Commercial or Owner Operator Truck Rollaway Accidents

An 80,000 pound commercial or owner operator truck can cause a lot of harm when it rolls away untended. Such accidents have demolished the sides of buildings, killed bystanders, and caused traffic accidents when rigs roll into busy highways. The potential for harm is even greater for trucks hauling hazardous materials.

Although mechanical problems may cause rollaways, they’re mostly caused by human error. Distraction, forgetfulness, fatigue, and haste are the common explanations for why truck drivers don’t always set their brakes before leaving the cab. This isn’t a rare occurrence. There’s no shortage of truck rollaway news stories. Even shipping dock forklift drivers are victims when their forklift falls to the pavement because a trailer started rolling during their loading/unloading operations.

Rollaways have also killed drivers trying to stop their own trucks, either when they try to get inside the cab, or try stopping it from the outside. If you think such an accident couldn’t happen to you, think again. If enough problems hit you at once, forgetting to set the brakes is possible. It happened to an experienced career truck driver who was killed by his own propane transport truck. Problems prevented the driver from transferring the propane out of his truck and it was late in the day. He was going to leave but a safety air brake interlock prevented this. The interlock sets the trailer brake to prevent the driver from driving the truck away with fuel lines still attached.

The driver went outside to his trailer to release the interlock. However, he failed to set the tractor’s brake before leaving his cab. When he released the interlock, the trailer’s brakes released and the truck started rolling. The driver ran alongside the truck and reset the interlock but he fell to the ground and a wheel of his rig ran over him.

The main takeaway from this is to always set the parking brakes from inside the cab before going outside. After setting the brakes, recheck that the brakes are set. Make this an automatic habit that happens without the need to remind yourself. There should be no exceptions to this practice because they will weaken your habit. Finally, use wheel chocks on inclines and at shipping docks.

If you have questions on this or on commercial or owner operator truck insurance in North Carolina, please contact us.