Measures preventing vehicles from rolling away

Resolution taken on 8th November 2017 based on a recommendation by the DVR Executive Committee on Vehicle Technology

German Road Safety Council - 2017


A person leaving a vehicle is obliged to take the necessary measures to avoid accidents and traffic disruptions. According to § 14 of the German Road Traffic Regulations the available safety devices must be used, which in particular implies engaging the parking brake ('handbrake').

In the newspapers there are repeated reports about accidents due to vehicles rolling away when the were parked. Very often these accidents only involve material damage. However, the consequences of such unintended roll-aways can be very serious depending on the circumstances.


The German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV), expert committee for traffic and the environment published the number of accidents involving rolling vehicles reported to DGUV for the years 2011 until mid-2017. Over this period 59 accidents were reported. 25 of these accidents were fatal. Most of these accidents happened when releasing the clutch or when loading or unloading commercial vehicles.

The accident-insurance institutions have suggested that employers take actions ranging from organisational measures (e.g. instruction of employees) to technical measures (e.g. securing systems on loading bays). However, these preventive measures, only have limited effects. DVR recommends that vehicles, in particular commercial vehicles and busses, should be equipped with a feature which automatically engages the parking brake when the driver leaves the driving seat.


  • Vehicle Manufacturers should promote the development of automatically engaging parking brake systems and their standard implementation in all new vehicles.
  • Manufacturers should promote the standardisation of functions.
  • It must be ensured that the parking brake is engaged or will be engaged automatically if the driver is no longer active and leaves the driving seat. In this case a mere warning function is not sufficient.
  • The parking brake should only be released if the driver is ready to take control, or if the driver signals his/her intention to drive off by performing relevant activities.
  • Special operating conditions, such as towing or using automated car washes, should not be affected.
  • The hazards of vehicles rolling away should be pointed out intensively during instruction courses as well as during driver education and training.

Dr. Walter Eichendorf