Timely fatigue technology emergence
THE heavy vehicle industry has made strong gains incorporating a range of safety technologies and systems, including some targeted at reducing driver fatigue incidents.
These fatigue-related technologies vary, but more recently we've seen the emergence of in-cabin cameras, on-person sensors and even on-glasses sensors.
It's being used by a small, but growing section of the heavy vehicle industry.
As a regulator, the emergence of these technologies is timely, as it's occurring around the same time we're kick-starting a broader discussion around reform to our current fatigue laws and work and rest hour framework.
I've also read with interest in these pages the comments of Queensland Trucking Association chief executive officer Gary Mahon about the rapid growth in both the number of fatigue provisions and complexity of those provisions in the National Heavy Vehicle Law.
Gary made some good points around the use of science and applied thinking to bring about a great result for road safety and shift in driving culture. He also called on lawmakers to "set a new vision for managing the risk of fatigue”.
Point well made, Gary. Our fatigue laws, which are based on work and rest hours, are now nearly two decades old.
They have led to significant safety gains, but I acknowledge that there is still a lot of work to do.
Last week, the NHVR hosted a Fatigue Safety Forum.
This event was attended by about 40 industry representatives, including major companies, owner drivers, and businesses from across the supply chain.
It will allow the NHVR to better work with industry to improve fatigue safety outcomes.
Looking forward, I'm committed to supporting further research and trials of the emerging fatigue technologies to see if they're able to deliver additional safety benefits over traditional approaches by also monitoring driver distraction and drowsiness.
In addition to safety features, we want to look at operational efficiency of different fatigue monitoring technologies and the best ways to support their uptake.
This will require field operations of different fatigue monitoring technologies as well as consultation with current users to determine what if any, law changes should be considered in the review of the heavy vehicle law.
The review of our fatigue laws will be an important component of the wider review of the Heavy Vehicle National Law, which is being proposed for 2019.
Again the NHVR supports this review, and we want to make sure they meet the future safety and productivity needs of the Australia's heavy vehicle industry.
Better education, technology and new procedures are regularly emerging and it's important that future fatigue regulation continues to encourage these initiatives.