Study results from fatigued, distracted truck drivers

Friday 27 Mar 2020

Truck drivers are twice as likely to crash when fatigued and 11 times more likely to crash when both fatigued and distracted according to the latest findings by Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC). Using a new purpose-built truck simulator to measure truck driver performance, the study accurately detected the level of truck driver fatigue ahead of when a safety critical event occurs.

The study also tested fatigue prevention and driver-monitoring technology in working fleet trucks on the road. World-class Guardian technology supplied by Seeing Machines was used during the evaluation that included the participation of 74 different drivers. It actively monitors for and alerts commercial drivers to fatigue and distraction in real time.

Seeing Machines in partnership with Ron Finemore Transport and Volvo Trucks Australia, used automotive grade technology alongside Guardian, to study driver behaviour well before a microsleep resulted. In a breakthrough innovation never reportedly achieved before, the study also detected where a driver was looking as part of the distraction monitoring in real-time testing.

This resulted in the team creating a comprehensive distraction warning system for drivers. With the direct input of Ron Finemore Transport, the team fitted ten fleet trucks with the technology and monitored drivers for nine months. Over 100 drivers enrolled in the study, collectively driving 22,000 trips across over 1.5 million kilometres, resulting in the largest and most comprehensive study of its kind in the world.

Using Australia’s first Truck Simulator, Monash researchers conducted tests on truck drivers under different conditions, using Big Data to fine-tune the technology that will be rolled out in future vehicles. The drivers were sleep deprived and then intentionally distracted during driver simulation for two-hours. Researchers recorded 29 crashes in the simulator, with 21 (72 per cent) in fatigue condition and eight (28 per cent) in an alert state during a crash.

Drivers were twice as likely to crash when fatigued, but 11 times more likely to crash when fatigued and distracted at the same time. The study provided a unique test-bed for the evolving sophistication of the sensor technology that aims to reduce heavy vehicle crashes in Australia, improve truck driver well-being and help truck companies better manage their drivers’ fatigue. More >>.

Fatigue, and safety issues around wood harvesting and haulage operations are key themes for this years Forest Safety & Technology series set up for local companies by the Forest Industry Engineering Association. Both the Australian and New Zealand events originally scheduled to run in May of this year (which had to be postponed through COVID-19) will now be running alongside the HarvestTECH 2020 series in Melbourne, Australia on 16-17 September and then again in Rotorua, New Zealand on 22-23 September 2020.

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