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The Importance of a Traffic Management Plan: Forklift Speed and Stopping Distances

Filed under: Safety

This blog outlines the importance of a traffic management plan and why forklift speed and stopping distances should be considered prior to the implementation of the plan within the warehouse. Firstly, it is important to understand that the brakes of a forklift are a lot less reactive than other vehicles such as a car or truck; however, they can still cause a tip over or loss of load from the forklift when applied heavily and suddenly.

Warehouse safety requirements

As a safety requirement, all workplaces with forklift operations should have speed limits clearly displayed, observed and enforced. Pedestrians within these designated areas should also have a visibility vest on at all times. A traffic management plan is crucial to a safe working environment to ensure pedestrians are clear from potential danger when in the warehouse as well as ensuring the safety of all forklift operators

pedestrian safety

Adhering to speed limits

To ensure speed limits are adhered to, it is important for employers to purchase forklifts with speed limit devices pre-installed, such as the fleet management safety system ForkTrack. These types of devices ensure speed limits are obeyed as they report any forklifts which exceed a certain speed to the warehouse or operations manager via email in real time. Where possible, older forklifts should be retro-fitted with the devices to ensure the entire fleet follow speed limits at all times and that safety precautions are always taken.

speed limt

ForkTrack also combines advanced safety features with an unprecedented level of fleet efficiency, offering reduced fleet running costs, instant monitoring and control, real-time web based reporting, and operator accountability and performance.


Stopping in an Emergency

The speed at which a forklift is travelling, the weight of its load and road surface all determine the distance at which a forklift can stop in an emergency. Therefore, forklift braking distances must be considered when planning for and managing forklift travel paths.

When planning for pedestrian safety, the emergency stopping distance of a fully loaded forklift is often significantly underestimated. It is important to note that if a fully loaded forklift uses its maximum braking power, the load will slide or fall from the forks, or there is a danger of the forklift tipping over forwards and this potential distance must be taken into account.

In the instance of a forklift travelling at 6km/h, there would be a total of a 3 meter distance required for the forklift to stop safely from pedestrian walkways in the case of an emergency. If the forklift is travelling at 16 km/h up to 12 meters may be required for a forklift to stop safely.

forklift tipping

Traffic management Plan

This information is important to consider when developing a traffic management plan for your warehouse. Effective traffic management planning coupled with intelligent fleet management systems fitted to forklifts and appropriate operator and pedestrian behaviour will all contribute to minimising injuries to pedestrians and ensuring a safer workplace.

traffic management plan

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