High Tech Railway Crossing Safety Device Unveiled
QR National has unveiled an innovative new safety device which could help protect truck drivers from death or serious injury by preventing them from striking the 25,000 volt power lines at central Queensland rail crossings. “These power lines carry 25,000 volts and can be deadly,” QR National’s Vice President Network Operations Clay McDonald said. “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. We’re extremely concerned that it’s only a matter of time before a truck driver is killed or suffers a serious injury.” The installation of over-height detection equipment is part of a multi-pronged attack by QR National to prevent level crossing accidents that includes driver education, safety upgrades and innovation, and enforcement through fines and the recovery of costs of damage caused by motorists. The equipment works by detecting approaching over-height vehicles and then activating flashing lights and signs to alert the driver, using messages such as “OVER HEIGHT / STOP”. The equipment would be trialled over the next six months at the level crossings on Ardurad Road in Blackwater and Normanby Street in Dingo and will rolled out at other critical level crossings across the QR National rail network if proven successful. The equipment provides a rapid and clear visual warning to alert truck drivers of the approaching danger, and stores data on the number of incidents that have been averted. Since July 2011 there have been 91 near misses recorded and 29 collisions at level crossings on the central Queensland coal network. QR National is joining other rail providers around the country to highlight the dangers. “In 2011-12, there was a 350 per cent jump in the number of heavy vehicles hitting high voltage overhead power lines compared to 2010-11,” Clay McDonald said. “Most of the incidents occur when drivers are unaware of the height of their load and the aerials attached to the vehicles hit the overhead wires. These incidents not only threaten the lives of drivers and our employees but can also result in the closure of the coal system, potentially costing producers and the economy millions of dollars in lost coal exports. The result of not taking enough care can be damage to the level crossing, the driver’s truck, injury or worst of all, loss of life,” he said.