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Thermal camera trial cuts down on animal strikes

Animals spotted by the thermal camera attached to a truck during a trial in WA.
Animals spotted by the thermal camera attached to a truck during a trial in WA.

THE results so far have been positive in a six month trial of a truck mounted thermal imaging camera.

Western Australia's Pala Pty Ltd, trading as Cochranes Cartage Contractors, who provide express overnight line haul services to WA's north west, mounted a thermal camera in one of their trucks in a bid to reduce animal strikes.

The camera is mounted just above the steering wheel and highlights animals as white shapes. 

After a number of major animal strikes in WA's north west Pala searched around for a way to mitigate against such events in the future.

With the assistance of Avantgarde Distribution, the national authorised land distributor for FLIR Thermal Imaging, they installed a FLIR MD625 thermal camera that provides vision in excess of 800 metres ahead without the need for any high beam lighting.

The company had had more than 10 animal strikes on its trucks in the lead up to the trial, and even minor strikes can cause thousands of dollars worth of damage. 

"As everyone who has driven WA country roads knows, animals are very difficult to spot and often jump out in front of your vehicle leaving you no time to react," Pala director Barry Cochrane said.

"Animal strikes are not only damaging to the vehicles they are distressing for the drivers too. The thermal camera means our drivers can see animals even when the animal is hidden on the side of the road, regardless of whether its day or night, up to 500 metres ahead of the vehicle.

"This gives our drivers time to begin to take action to either slow down or to avoid the animal."

Research by the National Truck Accident Research Centre, which was established by insurance giant NTI, shows that animal strikes account for 22 per cent of all heavy vehicle accident claims in Western Australia.

More than 520 accidents in the past six years involved animal strikes resulting in insured losses in excess of $13.3 million and that figure does not include the cost to customers of their downtime and associated expenses, nor the cost of the loss of stock if such animals were involved.

Topics:  trucking western australia

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