Safety alert issued over parking of automated manual transmission vehicles

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Monday, 12 December, 2022 - 12:00
Policy & legislation

WorkSafe Victoria recently issued a safety alert about the importance of parking safely when using a vehicle that has an automated manual transmission (AMT).

The alert was issued following an incident in which 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, and 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

AMT is a standard feature of some small trucks (under 4.5 tonnes), according to the alert, which said 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,” the alert said.

“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.

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 from 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.

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

For parking on a steep hill, the safety alert said to:

  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.

When the vehicle is parked on a steep uphill/downhill, the alert said to be sure to engage the gear before stopping the engine. (Ensure the gear indicator displays the appropriate gear). When the vehicle has been parked with 1st or reverse gear engaged, start the vehicle by moving the gear change lever to the “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 the “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.