It’s about time researchers started looking at fatigue in the real world. The whole subject has been one full of contention for a long time and some genuinely salient facts may help inform more rational debate. This is what the research at the Cooperative Research Centre for Alertness, Safety and Productivity is aimed at doing.
The National Transport Commission will be using the findings to inform its review of the topic of fatigue, slated for next year. If the findings confirm conventional thinking on the matter, the current fatigue regime may remain largely unchanged with some small alterations. However, if the findings come up with some new findings the whole debate will open up again and place the existing fatigue management system into doubt.
There is much to debate on the issue and the gulf between the traditionalists, who insist the driver knows best about when and if they are fit to drive, and the regulators, who want a rational system able to monitor driving time and prevent fatigue related incidents, will just become ever wider.
Hopefully, the new research will shine a new light on the subject and make it easier to come to a compromise which helps trucking deal with the tyranny of distance and improves safety outcomes for both the trucking community and other road-users.
“The heavy vehicle industry requires more flexibility in fatigue regulation, however first we need to better understand fatigue and the road safety challenges it represents,” said Paul Retter, NTC CEO. “There is a lack of comparable data, and data in general, on fatigue risks associated with heavy vehicle driving. We need robust evidence to underpin any future reforms of the fatigue regulations in the HVNL.
“Drivers are vital in helping us understand fatigue. We need more drivers and operators to take up this valuable opportunity to share their experiences.”