Australian Man Accidentally Crushes Own Toyota Land Cruiser with 125-Ton Mining Truck

This guy probably had a worse day at work than you.

byRob Stumpf|
Toyota News photo

An Australian man is red with embarrassment after a mining mishap left him with a bruised ego and flattened Toyota Land Cruiser 70 last week. 

Mining conglomerate Rio Tinto confirmed that it has opened an investigation over the incident at its iron ore mining site in western Australia last Thursday. According to ABC News, the driver of the fully-loaded haul truck—that's the proper term for these gigantic off-highway dump trucks—accidentally crushed his own Toyota Land Cruiser as he piloted the massive machine through the pre-dawn darkness.

Talk about a sinking feeling. If he felt it at all, that is. The 30-foot-tall haul truck in the photographs weighs almost 250,000 pounds empty—more than double that with a full load—so running over the Land Cruiser was akin to stepping on a medium-sized bug. Over on the Facebook group Mining Mayhem, where photographs of the accident first surfaced, there's a lot of discussion among seasoned vets over how this went down and who's to blame.

It's unclear why the Toyota was parked so close to the haul truck's path of travel when that's typically not allowed for the exact reason seen here. Most large-scale mines also attach tall safety flags to smaller vehicles to make them more visible from a haul truck driver's mechanical perch—you can see them in the daytime photo resting against the hauler's front wheel, but they're not that high up. Lastly, there are often spotters around when haul trucks have to drive through more crowded areas. But the most prominent detail in the ABC News report is that the driver was in fact an electrician in the midst of "performing maintenance," not a specialized haul truck driver as you'd expect for such a dangerous rig.

At Rio Tinto's flagship Pilbara mining site in far Western Australia, several of its haul trucks are equipped with autonomous technology that works within a geofenced zone—the truck in the accident being one of those retrofitted vehicles. But preliminary details hold that it was being operated in manual mode at the time of the accident outside of the geofenced area. It's possible the maintenance involved a failure with the self-driving system, leading an underqualified pilot to make the most human of errors. 

Two other large iron ore mining firms across Australia, BHP Billiton and Fortescue Metals Group Ltd, are also moving towards autonomy for its day-to-day operations.

Australia's mining firms have been in the safety spotlight recently following incidents involving runaway trains and tipped haul trucks . Rio Tinto says that despite no injuries being reported, it will fully investigate the incident and determine where it can implement safeguards to prevent the issue from recurring again.

"Safety is our top priority," a Rio Tinto spokesperson told local news. "The ongoing internal investigation will seek to identify measures to ensure such incidents are avoided in the future."

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