Future Fatigue Policy

The National Transport Commission is co-ordinating a project to pull in major data about the effect of fatigue in the trucking industry. The plan is to develop a national framework for collecting real-life operational data to better inform future fatigue policy.

 

The heavy vehicle fatigue data framework project is a major collaborative initiative between the NTC, the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR), the Alertness Cooperative Research Centre (CRC), road agencies, police and industry.

 

NSW truck rest area map

 

The goal of the initiative is to improve road safety by collecting and analysing heavy vehicle driver fatigue data. The framework has been developed for both ongoing data collection and new scientific research at a national level, providing an improved evidence-base for future policy decisions.

 

The first phase has involved the NTC releasing the Heavy Vehicle Driver Fatigue Data Final Report, which lays out the national framework to collect and analyse fatigue data to better inform future fatigue policy.

 

The Alertness Safety and Productivity Cooperative Research Centre (Alertness CRC), in collaboration with the NTC, will conduct comparative research in laboratory and field environments. This research will scientifically evaluate the fatigue impact of current regulations in the context of operational work schedules and validate the accuracy of alertness monitoring technology.

 

The research will use a combination of alertness monitoring devices, event recorders, work schedules and actigraphy devices (A tool to monitor rest/activity cycles, usually warn like a wrist watch) to link measurable fatigue data about long distance and local work drivers with incidents, near misses and work schedule data.

 

The NTC is set to analyse de-identified commercial telematics and alertness monitoring data to be incorporated into the Alertness CRC research activities. This will enable evaluation of the impact of regulations on driver fatigue, including, what they are calling, nose-to-tail schedules, BFM work patterns, night driving and local work.

 

A range of companies in Australia already hold fleet scheduling data and written work diary data, which can be linked to fatigue events or incidents. This data will be used to reveal large scale workforce patterns, such as when fatigue-related incidents occur at the beginning, middle or end of a driver’s shift, time of day and the frequency of nose-to-tail schedules.

 

Austroads is being asked to consider a National Road Safety Strategy project to review and agree national harmonised fatigue crash data. At the same time, the NHVR, and road agencies in Western Australia (WA) and the Northern Territory (NT), will seek to evaluate the proportion of BFM and AFM drivers involved in heavy vehicle crashes.

 

The project will undertake a feasibility review into linking crash, licensing and accreditation data, having regard to licensing laws, privacy protections and data systems in each road agency. This may make it possible to develop the capability to link crash data to National Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Scheme (NHVAS) data, supplied by the NHVR.

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Author: Tim Giles

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