Government, NHVR to tackle fatigue with technology

Funding allocated for trials to analyse various technologies in enhancing heavy vehicle safety

Government, NHVR to tackle fatigue with technology
Michael McCormack


Addressing truck driver fatigue is a focus of the Australian government and the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR), following an investment in field trials of fatigue monitoring technologies.

The NHVR’s Fatigue Safety Forum was the setting for the announcement, which detailed the commencement of field trials of SmartCap technology by the Port of Brisbane and the Queensland Trucking Association as part of the Heavy Vehicle Safety Around Ports project, funded by a $302,000 investment from the Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiative.

Federal transport minister Michael McCormack says the aim of the field trials is to determine the effectiveness of technology in reducing road deaths and trauma, with driver fatigue said to cause between 8 to 20 per cent of all crashes on Australian roads.

"The Liberals and Nationals' government is committed to ensuring people arrive home sooner and safer …  a critical element of success is developing new technologies which can enhance road safety outcomes," McCormack says.

An element of the SmartCap technology involves wearing a headband, called LifeBand, either strapped to headwear or worn on its own, which the company says provides real-time monitoring using brainwave technology to determine alertness and eliminates microsleep with fatigue measurements. A mobile app is available to supplement the service.

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"Technology is evolving quickly and it's pleasing to see it is being increasingly used by the heavy vehicle industry to improve driver safety," McCormack says.

"Over the past couple of days operators have provided numerous examples where they have adopted this technology without any legal recognition.

"I'm keen to see whether in the future we can support and provide regulatory flexibility for operators to use this technology."

The NHVR will also provide a further $250,000 to trial other driver fatigue monitoring technologies and initiatives, including in-cabin sensors and on-person sensors.

NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitto says the field trials will help determine if a range of fatigue detection and monitoring technologies can deliver additional safety benefits over traditional approaches by also monitoring driver distraction and drowsiness.

"In addition to road safety, the trial will look at the operational efficiency of different fatigue monitoring technologies and the best ways to support their uptake," Petroccitto says.

"It will include field operations of different fatigue monitoring technologies as well as consultation with current users and other stakeholders to determine what, if any, law changes should be considered in the review of the heavy vehicle law."

Examination of currently available technologies will begin later this year, with field trials starting in early 2019.


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