After three ‘runaway’ truck-trailer combinations at the site, the custodians of the busy Tarcutta changeover yards in NSW were in search of a solution before someone was seriously hurt.
Wagga Wagga City Council, which has responsibility and ownership of the Transport NSW designed and constructed assets on site, reviewed multiple solutions to alleviate personal, asset and vehicle damage minimisation, but many of these were dismissed due to financial limitations.
Council requested assistance from Statewide Mutual, NSW Local Government self-insurance mutual. Regional Risk Manager Damien Connell assisted Council in developing a much more cost-effective and simple solution – $6000 worth of parking brake reminder signage for remote supervision.
Council investigated and discovered all incidents at the changeover yard were caused by driver error of not applying the park brake to the prime mover prior to attaching trailer configurations’ air supply lines.
The problem is exacerbated by the natural 5-10 degree slope at Tarcutta, which can have disastrous results, as illustrated in this CCTV clip from the site that Connell shared with Big Rigs.
In the edited footage below you can see a driver exit the cab after connecting the trailer. Shortly after the lights are connected, the trailer brake releases.
Seconds later you can see the driver jump from the moving vehicle, moments before the truck hits the wall, without sustaining any injuries.
Since the signage was erected, however, reminding operators to apply the park brake prior to exiting the vehicle, Connell said there hasn’t been a repeat and he’s heard nothing but positive comments from yard users.
Connell said the Wagga Wagga Council should also be congratulated for taking the approach of consulting the drivers first about the problem.
“It’s a great example of local government getting it right and they haven’t wasted ratepayers’ money,” said Connell.
“They’ve also potentially saved someone’s life.”
Interstate truckie, and high-profile road safety advocate, Rod Hannifey, welcomed the addition of the signage reminding drivers of the need to engage the parking brake.
“Some sort of reminder like that is not going to go astray,” said Hannifey. “Blokes are busy in there running around, they’re not really thinking, I think that’s a good idea, just to bring it to the front of people’s minds.
“But it shouldn’t have been built that way in the first place.
“I’m surprised that no one has been killed there. I could see the problems before they even opened the thing.
“It was a terrible design on that slope, there was no need for that. The entrance in and out is badly designed for a B-double. You’ve virtually got to go on the wrong side of the road to get out of the thing.
“I was disappointed we weren’t consulted more in the build after waiting 30 years to get it. I’m sure we would have improved the safety of it.
“The fact it is already there now means there is nothing we can do about it.”