ATA technical council to tackle drawbar trailer safety

Expert member working group to develop a Technical Advisory Procedure

ATA technical council to tackle drawbar trailer safety
Bob Woodward


The Australian Trucking Association’s (ATA) Industry Technical Council (ITC) is undertaking a project on drawbar trailer safety. 

The ITC has put together an expert member working group to develop a Technical Advisory Procedure (TAP), a voluntary guide to meet the needs of industry and fill the gaps in vehicle standards, outlining processes for safe, optimum component performance.  

The working group includes coupling suppliers, drawbar trailer operators and engineering consultants.  

"ITC members have recognised and expressed concerns regarding key technical safety aspects of drawbar trailers, specifically the use of Susie coil air lines for the emergency brake function in a breakaway," ATA chief engineer Bob Woodward says.  

"The ATA is taking practical action on this real issue to improve safety for operators, drivers and everyone who shares the road." 

Read Woodward on Technical Advisory Procedures, here

Woodward says a breakaway occurs when a trailer accidentally disconnects from the primary coupling and the secondary coupling such as a safety chain, if fitted, also fails.  

"In that circumstance, the emergency brake system must be designed to function and perform in accordance with Australian Design Rules, but we have encountered significant issues with Susie coil airlines," he says.

"This is not a new issue. The ATA issued a safety alert about the use of Susie coils in 2015, and an NHVR working group recommended in 2016 that their use on drawbar trailers be prohibited.

"But there is yet to be any action to regulate the serious safety risks involved." 

Woodward adds there are known examples of drawbar trailer breakaway where the emergency brakes did not apply because of the type of airline connection.

"This TAP will address this issue by outlining best-practice procedures to improve personal and vehicle safety. 

"It will also address concerns regarding drawbar design and maintenance, as well as the installation of towing eyes that are not in accordance with manufacturers’ recommendations."

The TAP project is expected to be completed in April 2021 following a review from the wider ITC membership and ATA General Council.  

"Upon completion, the TAP will be available to prime contractors and major project consortiums who have the ability and motivation to improve safety when a deficiency is known," Woodward says.  


You can also follow our updates by joining our LinkedIn group or liking us on Facebook


Trucks For Hire | Forklifts For Hire | Cranes For Hire | Generators For Hire | Transportable Buildings For Hire