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Electric shock treatment to keep truckies awake?

Emergency services were called to a truck roll-over on the Pacific Hwy at Scotts Head on Saturday
Emergency services were called to a truck roll-over on the Pacific Hwy at Scotts Head on Saturday Frank Redward

IS electric shock treatment for fatigued truck drivers really the solution to the horror road toll?

It might sound a little drastic, but it's not that far from a sensible idea.

NSW Transport Minister Melinda Pavey raised the topic while talking about the tragic spate of fatal crashes involving truck drivers.

Technology to detect fatigue in truck drivers has been around for several years and the device the Minister was referring to is a clever one that has been trialled in the mining industry.

A camera monitors a driver's eye movements, looks for telltale signs of fatigue and then delivers a vibration (not really an electric shock) through the seat to alert the driver.

"This should not come as a shock to anyone in the transport industry, no pun intended," Ms Pavey told Channel Ten's The Project.

"This technology is being used around the world. It's just a little bit of a vibe through a chair or through a bracelet on a driver's arm and it works."

NSW Roads Minister Melinda Pavey.
NSW Roads Minister Melinda Pavey. news.com.au

In the UK a wristband vibrates to warn of fatigue.

Several vehicle makers have similar technology on their cars and trucks and it shows great promise, although it's still in its infancy.

Mercedes-Benz trucks in Australia are fitted with AEB, along with similar drowsy driver tech.

In the case of Benz, the truck monitors a driver's steering inputs and delivers a vibration through the steering wheel if they detect lazy driving.

They also have a lane departure warning, which sets off an alarm if the truck crosses the centre line or roadside markers.

After an horrific summer for truck-related crashes, the NSW Government is keen to see the transport industry trial electric shock wristband technology to prevent fatigue on long hauls.
After an horrific summer for truck-related crashes, the NSW Government is keen to see the transport industry trial electric shock wristband technology to prevent fatigue on long hauls.

Many luxury cars can steer themselves back into a lane if the driver strays.

Some will even gradually bring the car to a halt if they can't detect steering inputs.

Problem is, none of this technology was readily available 12 years ago, and the average age of our truck fleet is 12 years. That could change quickly, though, as AEB can be retrofitted to trucks.

It's expensive to install, though, and transport companies working on razor-thin margins are unlikely to adopt it unless forced, or encouraged to.

So while it's refreshing to see a minister looking outside the square to fix the disastrous road toll, it would be better still if they bit the bullet and made lifesaving AEB mandatory.

Topics:  editors picks electric shock technology fatigue roads minister melinda pavey truck drivers