QR National has unveiled a new safety device that could protect truck drivers from death or serious injury, by preventing contact with 25,000V power lines at central Queensland rail crossings.
Australasian Railway Consultancy Services (ARCS) has developed the over-height detection equipment for QR National to help highlight the dangers to drivers at level crossings.
QR said that the new equipment detects approaching over-height vehicles and then activates flashing lights and signs, as well as sending messages such as ‘OVER HEIGHT / STOP’ to alert the driver.
QR National vice president of network operations Clay McDonald said that the power lines carry 25,000V and can be deadly, with the safety device being trialled to prevent such accidents.
"We’re pleading with truck drivers to take the greatest care at level crossings, especially when they have a heavy vehicle carrying a high load or a vehicle with a high aerial," McDonald said.
"We’re extremely concerned that it’s only a matter of time before a truck driver is killed or suffers a serious injury."
The company said that since 1 July 2011 there have been 91 recorded near misses and 29 collisions at level crossings on the Central Queensland Coal Network.
Installation of the equipment is part of a multi-pronged strategy by the company to prevent level crossing accidents along with other initiatives, such as driver education, safety upgrades and enforcement through fines.
According to the company, in 2011-12 there was a 350% jump in the number of heavy vehicles hitting high-voltage overhead power lines when compared to 2010-11.
Over the next six months, the new equipment is due to be trialled at the level crossings including Ardurad Road in Blackwater and Normanby Street in Dingo.
If the trials are successful, the technology will be rolled out at other critical level crossings across the QR National rail network.
"This equipment provides a rapid and clear visual warning to alert truck drivers of the approaching danger, as well as stores data on the number of incidents that have been averted," McDonald said.