Federal Government invests in new driver fatigue testing field trials

The Federal Government and the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) are investing in new field trials to test driver fatigue monitoring technologies, which can enhance heavy vehicle safety outcomes.

At the NHVR Fatigue Safety Forum held in Sydney this week, Deputy Prime Minister and Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Minister Michael McCormack said field trials of the SmartCap technology would be conducted by the Port of Brisbane and the Queensland Trucking Association as part of the Heavy Vehicle Safety Around Ports project.

The Heavy Vehicle Safety Around Ports project is being funded by $302,000 from the Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiative, supported by the Federal Government.

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.

Mr McCormack said the aim of the field trials is to stimulate new technologies with the potential to reduce road deaths and trauma, targeting driver fatigue management.

He said driver fatigue is a major killer on Australian roads and in the heavy vehicle industry, with current estimates showing that 8 to 20 per cent of all crashes are fatigue-related.

However, a growing number of transport operators have been alerted to the use of new technologies to complement their existing processes for monitoring driver fatigue.

NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitto said the field trials would be used to 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,” he said.

“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.”

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

For more information on current heavy vehicle fatigue laws visit: www.nhvr.gov.au/fatigue