Driver fatigue is a major problem in Australia, as it’s the biggest cause of one in every five crashes across the country. This sobering statistic can be fought in a myriad of ways, including new technology being put to use by Toll Group.
The technology uses small infrared cameras to scan the driver’s face for signs of drowsiness or fatigue, such as shutting their eyes for extended periods of time or slumping their head. If the driver appears to be succumbing to fatigue, an alarm will sound in the cabin and the driver’s seat will vibrate, hopefully jostling the driver awake and giving them time to pull over and get some much-needed rest.
76 trucks across the national Toll Group fleet have the technology already fitted, and company spokesman Jacques van Niekerk said that the company has plans to bring it to every truck in the company over the next few years.
Similar anti-fatigue devices have been used in private vehicles for many years now. There are systems that flash alerts on the dashboard, sound an alarm or display a text message on the in-car navigation screen when they detect erratic driver behaviour. Some will then advise the driver of the location of the nearest rest stop through the navigation system. These systems have been available in high-end luxury cars for almost a decade now and will be made standard in more models as the cost of the technology decreases.
While opening the window, turning up the radio or throwing back some extra-strong coffee may feel like adequate solutions, drivers should be cautioned that these are temporary measures at best. There’s no substitute for catching up on sleep.
There’s no denying that working in the transport industry is one of the deadliest in the country, with 163 fatal crashes involving heavy trucks in the last 12 months. While technologies to help drivers stay safe are always welcome, many trucking unions believe in addressing the source by placing more onus on wealthy retailers and manufacturers who place unrealistic pressures on transport operators and drivers. Their unrealistic expectations are what leads to faulty trucks on the roads and drivers pushed to drive long hours, speed and skip their mandatory rest breaks.
Toll Group is one of our most valued customers, with many Drake Trailers featuring in their large fleet line up. We’ve helped them carry out the safe transport of giant turbine blades and most recently designed a 4X8 jinker trailer especially for a big project they have in the pipeline. Both the Toll Group and The Drake Group take safety and commitment to quality seriously. We’re happy to see the group put their drivers safety first.