This week some people in the trucking industry and even some from the regulators are listening to new voices on the subject of fatigue. The event in question is the Fatigue Hack-a-thon which is being held in parallel to the Australian Trucking Association’s annual Truck Australia conference, which is being held in Canberra this week.
The hack sees a number of teams from four to eight strong coming into the event to attack the problem of fatigue from a fresh angle and come up with some alternatives to the many proposed solutions we have heard about in the past.
The participants are briefed on the basics and have two and a half days to come up with a proposal, which they will have to pitch to the assembled delegates at the conference. Those delegates vote for their preferred option on a phone app and the winning team goes home with $6000. Not bad for a couple of days work!
What they come up with and how they come up with it is all up in the air at this stage, but it is the process which is likely to reap rewards even if the eventual winning proposal doesn’t work out to be doable.
It’s a great scenario. You have industry long-termers who grew up in an industry which was largely unregulated, unsafe and not for the faint-hearted. They have adapted over the years and embraced the new way the trucking industry works and the kind of responsibilities we have on the road.
There are also representatives of people from the other side of the fence. Those who have spent their career trying to keep truckies on the straight and narrow. There are others who have represented the trucking industry to the authorities to get the kinds of rules the industry can live with.
These are the sort of people the young teams need fore them to get a real idea of what the current picture is and where it needs to go. Of course, they already understand about the need for safety and have some idea about fatigue.
The interplay between the two groups is interesting. For the young teams the eye is on the final pitch and the prize. They need to get the best quality data out of these industry people and try to use this information to come up with a workable solution.
The communication also extremely useful in the opposite direction. The mentors walking around and helping the teams to get a snapshot of trucking are being asked questions by people who have no initial picture of the industry. They come at the problems from an altogether new direction.
This questioning is making the industry experts think hard about how and why it is like this. It is giving those who are involved an opportunity to look at ourselves as other see us. This is always a good exercise to go through, at any time.
If the only thing which comes for the hack-a-thon is some people in the trucking industry getting a new perspective on the problem from having their ideas questioned, we have a positive outcome.