Safe parking of vehicles with automated manual transmission

This safety alert is a reminder of the importance of parking safely when using a vehicle that has automated manual transmission (AMT).

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Published: 07 December 2022

Background

Recently, a 4.5-tonne removal truck rolled down a driveway and across a road due to not being parked safely. A person was injured when they were trapped between their vehicle and the truck. The driver of the truck wrongly believed that the vehicle had an automatic "gear lock" when the ignition was turned off.

WorkSafe found that:

  • the incident would not have happened if the truck had been put into the gear shown in the truck's handbook
  • the design of the truck did not show the user where to put the gear lever
  • the handbrake was not applied properly, and
  • the company’s drivers were not trained in, or familiar with, the safe parking processes for the type of vehicle being used

Safety issues

If a person is hit, trapped or crushed by a rolling vehicle, they could be severely injured or killed.

Common Hazards

AMT is a standard feature of some small trucks (under 4.5 tonne). These trucks can be driven by anybody with a Victorian car driver's licence.

A vehicle with AMT is seen by many drivers as an automatic that can be used as a 'clutchless' manual if needed. This is wrong. AMT is a modified manual transmission that removes the need for a clutch pedal to shift gears. It lets drivers choose between using automatic transmission or using 'clutchless' manual gears for better performance and control when the truck is loaded and/or travelling up and down hills.

A gear selector in a vehicle with AMT does not have a "Park" position. As such, people who are not familiar with AMT may think it is safe to leave the gear selector in neutral (see picture of a typical AMT gear selector below).

AMT gear shift selector
A typical automated manual transmission (AMT) gear selector

The driver of a vehicle with AMT needs to know how a vehicle with manual transmission works, despite it looking like an automatic.

If a truck is parked in neutral, then the handbrake is the only thing stopping the parked truck rolling away. It does not have an automatic "gear lock".

A vehicle's handbook will show the best gear to use when parking, in addition to the handbrake. When parked on a hill, the best gear to use will be based on the direction the truck is facing on the hill.

Recommended ways to control risk

To lower the risk of a vehicle with AMT from rolling away, employers must ensure drivers are trained in the parking process specified in the handbook for the type of vehicle being used. See example of a parking process for a particular type of vehicle below:

Parking on a steep hill

Illustration of two trucks. One on a decline with parking brake applied, shift indicator showing 'R' and wheel chock in front of front wheel. The other on an incline with parking brake applied, shift indicator showing '+1' and wheel chock behind back wheel.
Example parking process for a vehicle with AMT.
  1. Apply the parking brake while depressing the brake pedal.
  2. On an uphill stop, move the change lever from "D" to "-" (downshift) to select 1st gear. On a downhill park, move it from "D" to "R" (reverse). After shifting, make sure that the shift indicator shows "1" or "R".
  3. Stop the engine, and slowly release your right foot from the brake pedal.

Note: When the vehicle is parked on a steep uphill/downhill, be sure to engage the gear before stopping the engine. (Ensure the gear indicator displays the appropriate gear).

Note: When the vehicle has been parked with 1st or reverse gear engaged, start the vehicle by moving the gear change lever to "N" position and depressing the brake pedal. At this time, the shift indication remains "1" or "R" but it will change to "N" after the engine starts. Also, when the vehicle has been parked in "R" position, the warning buzzer beeps when your turn the starter switch to "ON".

Drivers may also use wheel chocks for extra security, but they should only be used together with the safe parking process outlined in the vehicle's handbook.

Legal Duties

Employers have duties under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004. They must, so far as is reasonably practicable:

  • provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and without risks to the health of employees and independent contractors
  • provide and maintain plant or systems of work that are safe and without risks to health
  • ensure that persons other than employees are not exposed to risks to their health or safety arising from the employer's work
  • consult with employees and health and safety representatives about certain health and safety matters, including when identifying or assessing hazards or risks and making decisions about risk control measures

Employers must also provide employees with the necessary information, instruction, training or supervision to enable them to do their work in a way that is safe and without risks to health.

These duties extend to independent contractors and their employees in relation to matters over which the employer has control. These duties may also extend to labour hire workers.

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017, employers and self-employed persons must, so far as reasonably practicable:

  • identify all hazards associated with the use of plant at the workplace
  • control risks associated with plant in accordance with the plant hierarchy of control, and
  • ensure the plant is inspected to the extent necessary to ensure that risks associated with its use are monitored

Related information

For further information on the plant hierarchy of control and when to review and revise risk control measures, see the plant compliance code.

Other state and national regulators may also have duties that need to be complied with, for example: