Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport Scott Buchholz has backed the latest fatigue monitoring technology like that used in the recent groundbreaking Monash University Accident Research Centre study.
Speaking at a launch event in Melbourne, Buchholz applauded the Seeing Machines Guardian project which halves the current four second time lapse of concentration used in existing telematics technology employed by many major transport operations in Australia.
The project aims to reduce fatal truck crashes by developing new vehicle technologies, through the study of driver behaviour, in a range of settings, with a focus on driver fatigue and distraction.
“What we know from this study, Seeing Machine’s project ‘Guardian’ would halve that lapse time. Within two-seconds a driver would be alerted through a seat based alert mechanism," said Buchholz.
“This addresses fatigue induced micro-sleeping and driver distraction, refocusing those behind the wheel and therefore, reducing distraction to prevent accidents, serious injury and road trauma," he said.
The Australian trucking industry was leading the way for driver safety according to Buchholz.
He called the study, a joint venture between MUARC, Volvo Group Australia, Seeing Machines and Ron Finemore Transport Group, the largest, most comprehensive study into driver behaviour seen in the freight transport sector to date.
"This study has demonstrated very clearly how effective driver monitoring technology can assist in addressing driver fatigue," Buchholz said.
“Importantly this has been a real-life study, incorporating live data and taking into account the varying conditions experienced by our truck drivers across the road network,” he said.
The Federal Government was excited by the prospect of supporting the Advanced Safe Truck Concept and other initiatives that allow industry, academia and government to work together to deliver safety and productivity improvements, using better technology.
It provided $2.25 million towards the study, funded through the Cooperative Research Centre Project.
“Ron Finemore transport an Australian company with a fleet of over 200 heavy vehicles, travelling 1.5 million kilometres per week, has been at the forefront of the research as part of the trial," said Buchholz.
“I am enthused that technology is emerging that will enable the freight industry to monitor and improve driver safety and wellbeing in ways not previously possible,” he said.
Ron Finemore Transport Group issued a statement regarding its participation.
"This World’s first project by MUARC helps our industry address a critical need to develop solutions to better manage truck driver behaviour and safety. We see this ground-breaking research project as the future for regulating fleet safety throughout the industry," the company said.
The Advanced Safe Truck Concept is a project led by Seeing Machines and aims to reduce fatal truck crashes by developing new vehicle technologies such as telematics.
Total cost of the ASTC project is $6.5 million. The Government funded $2.25 million while project partners were responsible for another $4.2 million.
Last year 188 people died from 173 fatal crashes involving heavy trucks.