New level crossing technology trialled in North Queensland

A new, innovative level crossing technology has now been switched on at two North Queensland locations as part of the Queensland Government’s efforts to improve road safety. The new radio break-in technology, which alerts motorists if there is a train approaching the crossing, is to be trialled over the next six months.

The technology, developed by LaTrobe University, detects the presence of motor vehicles in relation to trains via wireless sensors and can broadcast a warning announcement through the vehicle’s radio, as well as display a visual warning through a unit fitted above the dashboard.

In Australia, there were 578 level crossing accidents involving collisions between road vehicles and trains between 2001 and 2008 (ATSB, 2008). These collisions typically involve serious injury, frequently cause fatalities, and come at a significant personal, organisational, and governmental cost.

“The trial will help determine its effectiveness and whether it can be rolled out to additional railway crossings in Queensland,” said Scott Emerson, Queensland's Transport and Main Roads Minister.

The NFA Innovations’ Radio Break-In technology provides an auditory warning to the driver when a train is approaching a crossing. It operates by a transmitter sending a signal which is detected by the existing in-vehicle car radio and speaker system, this overrides normal transmission and even works when radios are switched off.

“Level crossing crashes are nearly always a result of road user behaviour. Some of these collisions have occurred in situations where a single error by one road user (not detecting the signal at the crossing) was sufficient to result in the collision,” said NFA Innovations Executive Director Pat Latter. “Although all road users should take responsibility for safe behaviour, people will always make mistakes. This strategy represents a step towards an ambition to create a road transport system in which those mistakes do not result in death or serious injury.”

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