Date PostedMay 20, 2014

Newcastle Bid to Overcome Fatigued Driving

The state government has planned to introduce a trial of a new method to reduce fatigued driving on the Newell Highway near Narrabri.

The new initiative will help drivers determine in advance whether there is parking available for them at truck rest stops on the highway.

In an effort to improve road safety for heavy vehicle drivers travelling on the Newell Highway near Narrabri, the state government will undertake a 4 month trial of the initiative entitled “Smart Rest Areas”.

As one of the identified ‘Fatal Four’ killers on our roads, fatigue is a serious problem particularly relating to long distance road freight driving and one of the effective ways to fight fatigue is to stop and rest. In fact fatigue has been identified as the current leading cause of accidents involving heavy vehicles according to government data.

According to the government several popular truck rest areas will be fitted with equipment that measures the size of the vehicles entering and leaving the truck rest stop. Truck drivers are then able to access the information via a smartphone app which allows them to determine in advance whether there is space available to them at the stop.

The government hopes that the trial will improve fatigue management and ultimately stop the high number of fatigue related accidents taking place on the highway.

We already know that fatigued driving is a major cause of road crashes especially those involving long distance driving. For many drivers, particularly professional drivers, fighting fatigue is a constant undertaking, they may be driving trucks overnight or may be driving late at night for jobs.

A driver is 4 times more likely to have a fatal fatigue crash if they are driving between 10pm and dawn. Fatigue becomes a factor in all trips that occur during normal sleep times, or at any time the driver has previously been deprived of sleep. This risk is increased if the driver is taking medication or driving alone.

Falling asleep even for a millisecond can be fatal and has been the cause of numerous road crashes. These micro-sleeps can be extremely common especially when the signs of drowsiness and fatigue are ignored.

Taking the necessary breaks every few hours is not only mandatory, it can be life-saving. Remember that accidents caused by heavy vehicles are usually more serious and affect other light motor road users even more than it does truckies.

Whenever possible truckies should stop frequently and do so for a sufficient amount of time. Drivers should understand by now the importance of getting out of the truck and stretching. It is also a time to get some fresh air which will also help in staying awake.

There have been studies which proved that driving while fatigued is as dangerous as drink driving. While most law abiding Aussies wouldn’t dare get behind the wheel of a heavy vehicle (or any vehicle) drunk, it seems they are more than willing to drive while fatigued, despite it being equally dangerous and perhaps even more common.

Perhaps the only thing worse than drivers who drive while fatigued is those who drive while under the influence of drugs and alcohol, sometimes as a means of fighting fatigue. Ultimately tackling fatigue at its source is the best and most effective way of dealing with it.

No matter how experienced a driver, they can still be struck by fatigue that is one of the reasons why it is so dangerous – it affects everyone.

In Australia fatigue contributes to 20-30% of all deaths on the road. This means it is as major a contributory factor to the road toll as speeding and drink driving. The contribution of fatigue may even reach 40-50% in particular crash types, such as fatal single vehicle semi-trailer crashes according to university study statistics.

Rest stops provide an invaluable service for truck drivers along a long route and they should be utilised as much as necessary. On most Australian roads there should be a truck parking area every 80km interval so truckies and schedulers can make allowance for the sufficient number of rest breaks at the necessary intervals, the new government initiative will hopefully help in this regard.

Planning is crucial in ensuring a safe trip and the most successful and experienced drivers already are aware of this. But drivers aren’t the only one responsible when it comes to Fatigue Management compliance. Drivers, owners and others within the transport business who are involved with planning, scheduling or affected by it as drivers are need to understand Fatigue management. In order to this they need to undergo the necessary Fatigue Management training.

Training is designed to help commercial vehicle drivers in particular understand the impact of fatigue and assist those in the company including management and supervisors to work to develop strategies to prevent fatigued driving within the organisation.

For more information about the course visit our homepage.

Posted in Blog Tagged with: , , ,