UPS truck loses brakes, rolls backwardown grade and hits parked cars

No parking brake to apply?
Driver could not place in gear?

Thought ups rule was always shutoff motor? I assume most trucks are auto? Delivery on hilly roads? New thing?

Given the failure to start, I’m guessing it might have already been in gear, which is why it didn’t start. Then the brakes “failed” because there was no power assist and the driver was panicking.


It’s interesting to me that there seems to be a pattern of blaming the vehicle when an accident happens. The truck “lost control”, not the driver. The driver has the controls and the decision making job, not the truck. If the systems failed, fine, report that, but more often it’s driver error.


It bothered me to hear they charged the driver with a crime. A professional driver is expected to conduct a thorough pre-trip inspection at the beginning of each shift, but most drivers either skip it to save time or only do it once a week, particularly on a company-owned vehicle. After all, an over-the-road truck driver gets paid by the mile, not by the hour.

Having said that, I’d like to know why the brakes failed. Was the fluid leaking or low? I’ve seen hydraulic brake lines blow while a vehicle was in motion. It can be scary if you’re not lucky enough to be in a place where you can pull over safely. Maybe the driver should have spotted the rusty brake lines during his inspection, or noticed the brake fluid was dirty, or that the master cylinder was leaking, but the brakes might have failed without showing any previous outward sign, and the driver shouldn’t be cited if that is the case.

If this driver conducted a thorough pre-trip inspection, and didn’t spot anything wrong with the truck, I think UPS should be charged or cited rather than the driver. It’s not his truck.

If the brakes fail in my personal vehicle, knowing who to blame is a lot easier. Since I own my car, I’m 100% responsible for its maintenance and repairs to keep it in safe operating condition. If you hire me to drive your vehicle, which one of us should take that responsibility?


If that truck . . . actually, I think it’s technically a walk-in van . . . has an Allison transmission, it very well might not have a park position

Which would make applying the parking brake even more important, versus when I park my car with automatic transmission WITH park position and a parking brake handle to pull up

None of us were there or know what kind of mechanical shape the UPS van was in

Maybe the parking brake shoes were already metal-to-metal before the guy even grabbed the van?

in our fleet, vehicles and operators are usually paired, meaning it’s almost always the same driving the van, every single day

I have no idea how it works at UPS

Could be the drivers get whichever van is ready

But even if that’s the case, he should have familiarized himself with the vehicle before leaving the yard. And by yard, I mean the UPS facility, hub, or whatever it’s called

When I get a vehicle for service, there are quite a few things I check out before heading out on my test drive. If I discover a massive coolant leak, brake fluid leaking, bulging tire or something along those lines, I’m not leaving the yard . . . at least not until those things are fixed.

that’s my gut feeling, as well


I also tend to think driver error. There is a knee jerk reaction by people when they screw up and try to lay the blame off on something else.

Much like the Audi Death Cars in the 80s which was blamed on unintended acceleration. There was nothing wrong with the cars; only the operators. And a number of those operators either admitted later they “may have” been pushing the throttle instead or the bogus claim that they “had both feet planted on the brake pedal” and it was still rocketing ahead. Sorry, the torque converter with a 2200 RPM stall is not going to override the brakes with both feet planted. I’ve never found an issue on any of them I’ve worked on.

A friend of mine worked for Porsche/Audi back then and he said he heard all kinds of non-sensical stories on them. And I tend to believe that guy because he is by far the sharpest mechanic I’ve ever known in my life.


Sure I went through training for fork lifts and snowplows, they had a clip board in a metal case for pre inspection, there was not one sheet filled out and the clip boards slowly disappeared. Snow plows I did a cursory inspection, but to do a 5 minute checklist to offload a truck 20 feet away, OK, I was bad, air in the tires good to go.

As I’ve mentioned previously, I was a passenger in my friend’s Accord when it was T-boned by a woman driving a Lexus SUV. I overheard the cop interrogating her at the scene, and she stated, “The harder I pushed on the brake, the faster it went”. :unamused:
The cop muttered, “Yeah, that’s what happens when you confuse the brake pedal and the accelerator”.

4 Likes why I teach and practice “panic braking” by taking foot from accelerator and pressing the brake as quickly as possible.
Repeathiseveral times after fastening seat-belts before starting thengine to keep it second nature.

A few days ago I saw a UPS driver park at the bottom of a long, steep driveway and climb up with his packages to make the delivery. I wonder if this incident influenced his decision. Had the van run away, it could have crossed the street and rammed the front door of the house across the street. Good decision, IMO.


Fifty years ago a local parcel delivery company driver making a delivery to a Ford dealership in a Ford van left his engine running with the transmission in Park. When returning to the van he saw it drop out of Park and into Reverse where due to the cold the carburetor fast idle was engaged and the truck crossed the lot to hit a new car and that collision was severe enough that the shift lever dropped out or Reverse and down to Low resulting in the van moving back across the lot to hit another new car. I believe that there was an internal bulletin from FMC to dealers regarding the poor detent on column mounted shifts at the time but a lot of people had egg on their face in the situation I recall.

I remember that Ford detent issue as it made national news with some video clips showed cars in reverse going round and round until they hit something.
That almost happened to me on one of my Fords back in the day but luckily I was only half out of the car and managed to catch it in time.

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I’m sure there have been several screw-ups in the design and/or build of vehicles over the years that have resulted in crashes. People design them, people screw up. But after a lifetime of dealing with people’s errors and mistakes and the messy consequences of them I am inclined to look for operator error before a systemic design problem. UPS has literally thousands of vans, travelling millions of miles and parking so many times only they could estimate the frequency. If those vans were rolling away because of a design flaw they would be rolling all over everywhere. They aren’t.

My aunt experienced that exact situation with her Ford, many years ago. Luckily, there was no significant damage, but because of that incident she began using her e-brake–for the first time.

30+ years ago in Central NY this golfing buddy of mine who owned a couple RV stores was telling me what happened over the weekend. Said the manager from one the RV stores called him in a state of panic…Telling on the phone that a AT&T truck lost it’s brakes and rode into the yard destroying about 15 brand new RV’s costing around $75k each. My buddy said calm down…we just sold 15 band new RV’s in one weekend…a new record.


I remember seeing a 60 minutes documentary on that issue way back when - they actually had some video footage of the accelerator dropping down and accelerating on it’s own with a car up on the ramp. The issue also persisted with people running into the back wall of their garages after they put the brake interlock system in. I’m sure there were cases of people mixing up the pedals, but there was more to it than that.

It’s good to hear that an owner who takes care of business can let what looks like a catastrophe pass while reassuring his manager that everything will be taken care of. Odds are the owner was quite successful.


Very successful…He retired before those HUGE camping/RV stores (like Campers World) came around and drove out all the smaller guys. He owned 3 locations (maybe 4)…but combined they were 1/10th the size of one Campers world. He might have up to 40 new and used RV’s on his lot at any one time…

On our 500 mile trip to the cabins There are so many rv sales sites stocked full, I don;t know how they could possibly sell them all.

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