ATA issues warning on use of brakes when trailers are stopped

Trucking association highlights trailer safety dangers when using European trucks.


The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) has focused on trucking operators’ park braking habits and trailer safety in a new technical advisory procedure document.

The trucking group’s document is a warning to drivers who do not activate the spring brakes on their trailers when stopped, instead choosing to park ‘on air’, a less secure option.

ATA senior engineering adviser Chris Loose says the issue surrounds some European trucks that, while meeting Australian standards, only supply service air to the brakes on connected trailers rather than spring brakes, creating a potential issue if air were to leak or if air lines were not connected properly.

"In Australia, the standard practice is that trailers are parked using the mechanical force of their spring brakes. Applying the park brake in the cab of a prime mover should apply these spring brakes on all connected trailers," Loose says.

"The European standard only requires the brakes to maintain pressure for 15 minutes, because their drivers routinely fit wheel chocks.

"Because Australian operating practices don’t include the use of wheel chocks in these situations, there’s a real danger that these braking systems could contribute to a trailer rolling away, or its landing legs being damaged."

In response, the ATA’s Industry Technical Council has produced the Park brake operation Technical Advisory Procedure document to help operators determine whether their trucks are affected and, if so, the best ways to ensure trailers are secure.

"If your heavy vehicle park brake parks trailers ‘on air’, it is important to get advice from a suitably qualified engineering consultant," Loose says.

"Similarly, the ATA recommends that trucking operators should only purchase vehicles where applying the park brake activates its trailers’ spring brakes."

ATA’s technical document is available here, along with ATA’s library of past advisory procedures.


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