A safety vehicle provides a protective barrier for workers on expressways by extending its two metal beams. (Provided by Central Nippon Expressway Co.)

NAGOYA--An extendable truck that can provide a 23-meter-long protective barrier for road crews was developed after an increase in accidents at expressway work sites caused by oncoming vehicles.

Created by Central Nippon Expressway Co., the 25-ton vehicle, when not extended, measures 16 meters long and 2.5 meters wide.

The protective barrier is created by extending the two 1.2-meter-tall, 10-meter-long metal beams that make up part of its body.

The barrier can be 1.8 meters tall if a protective net is included.

When the vehicle is parked on an expressway, the beam closest to the shoulder is moved toward the center so that it becomes flush with the other beam. Road crews can work in safety in a space created by the shifting of the beam.

The vehicle has shock-absorbing equipment and is designed to protect workers from a 10-ton truck crashing into the beams at speeds up to 80 kph, Central Nippon Expressway said.

The safety truck will start operating at construction sites in Aichi, Gifu and Mie prefectures in the Tokai region toward the end of this year.

The truck was developed jointly with Yokohama-based Toho Car Corp., which exclusively makes vehicles for construction use. One truck costs 40 million yen ($370,000) to produce.

Development of the vehicle started after a large truck struck parked work vehicles on the Chuo Expressway in Tajimi, Gifu Prefecture, in August 2017, killing one worker. Eight people, including other workers, the truck driver and motorists on a national road under the expressway, were injured.

The number of accidents at construction sites on expressways managed by Central Nippon Expressway has been rising every year.

Last fiscal year, 149 such accidents involving death, injury or property damage were reported, more than triple the figure for fiscal 2016.

According to Central Nippon Expressway, the protective vehicle is the first of its kind in Japan. A vehicle to protect road crews has already been introduced in the United States.

Central Nippon Expressway said it will consider mass producing the vehicle after seeing how effective it works.