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Safe coupling and uncoupling guide

FTA coupling and uncoupling guide

FTA instrumental in free publication offering guidance on safe trailer coupling and uncoupling

THE Freight Transport Association (FTA) has been instrumental in the drafting of new guidance on the safe coupling, uncoupling and parking of commercial vehicles and trailers.

The ‘Safe coupling and uncoupling guide’ is intended to assist employers, those who control sites where coupling and uncoupling is undertaken by users of large goods vehicles, managers, self-employed drivers and driver training bodies. It has been developed by industry as a good-practice guide with the aim of reducing the likelihood of a runaway or rollaway incident.


The guide has been produced by an industry working group made up of members of the Transportation and Logistics Forum, which is chaired by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The FTA was instrumental in the drafting of the guidance and worked closely with the HSE and other industry bodies during this process.

In her introduction to the guide, Sarah Bell, the Traffic Commissioner representative on the Transportation and Logistics Forum, said: ‘Tragically, each year there are a number of fatalities or serious injuries due to vehicle runaways or trailer rollaways. The cause is often because the individual in charge mistakenly believes that all brakes are engaged when they are not. This should not happen if simple procedures are followed.’

Andy Mair, the FTA’s head of engineering, added: ‘Vehicle and trailer runaway incidents are a serious concern for FTA members, the consequences of which can often be fatal. This new guidance will be welcomed by members who will be able to put it into practical use for the training of drivers and use it as a benchmark for risk assessment of their procedures, site and systems, to ensure safe coupling and uncoupling of trucks and trailers.’

The guide includes practical information on how truck and trailer parking brake systems operate and step-by-step photographic sequences for the coupling and uncoupling procedures which should be adopted by drivers.

Mr Mair continued: ‘Research by the Health and Safety Laboratory suggests that many drivers do not understand how truck and trailer parking brakes operate, which is a key requirement in the coupling and uncoupling procedure.

‘The guide aims to address some of the common misunderstandings, includes a clear and understandable explanation, and shows that in most cases drivers incorrectly believe that disconnecting the coupling air lines applies the trailer parking brake.’

The ‘Safe coupling and uncoupling guide’ is available free of charge from the FTA website at:


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