Tired man truck driver with cigarette

NTC claims world-first in fatigue research

The National Transport Commission (NTC) and the Cooperative Research Centre for Alertness, Safety and Productivity (Alertness CRC) have released the results of a world-first study into heavy vehicle driver fatigue.
The two-year scientific study evaluated alertness monitoring technology and the impacts of work shifts on driver alertness. It analysed shift starting time, the number of consecutive shifts, shift length, shift rotation, rest breaks and their likely impact on driver drowsiness and fatigue.
Spokesperson and theme leader for the Alertness CRC Associate Professor Mark Howard said the research involved a study of more than 300 heavy vehicle driver shifts both in-vehicle and in a laboratory, as well as 150,000 samples of retrospective data.
“We found that slow eye and eyelid movements, longer blink duration and prolonged eye closure are reliable predictors of drowsiness and fatigue,” Associate Professor Howard said.
The study also confirmed the scientific link between alertness and drowsiness  patterns associated with specific work shifts for heavy vehicle driving.
NTC chief executive officer Dr Gillian Miles said these findings will inform future fatigue policy as part of the NTC-led review of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL).
“This is critical new evidence that will ultimately help to decrease heavy vehicle fatigue risk at a time when the nation’s freight task is expected to double by 2030,” Dr Miles said.
The Alertness CRC conducted the research as part of a wider collaboration, including the NTC, the Australian Government, Transport for NSW, Austin Health, Monash University, the Institute for Breathing and Sleep and the heavy vehicle industry.
The summary report and an infographic of the key research findings are available on the NTC website.

Key research findings

  • Greatest alertness levels can be achieved under current standard driving hours for shifts starting between 6am – 8am, including all rest breaks.
  • Greatest risk of an increase in drowsiness occurs:
    • After 15 hours of day driving when a driver starts a shift before 9am).
    • After 6–8 hours of night driving (when a driver starts a shift in the afternoon or evening).
    • After 5 consecutive shifts when driving again for over 13 hours.
    • When driving an early shift that starts after midnight and before 6am.
    • During the first 1-2 night shifts a driver undertakes and during long night shift sequences.
    • When a driver undertakes a backward shift rotation (from an evening, back to afternoon, or an afternoon back to a morning start).
    • After long shift sequences of more than seven shifts.
    • During nose-to-tail shifts where a seven-hour break only enables five hours of sleep – a duration previously associated with a three-fold increased risk for motor vehicle accidents.

New Linfox CEO reveals safety agenda

Mark Mazurek, the recently appointed CEO of Linfox Logistics, has told Logistics & Materials Handling how the supply chain company intends to set an example for safe practice in Australia.
“In 2017, there were 168 fatal crashes in Australia involving heavy vehicles,” he said. “This is unacceptable and it tells us that safety requires relentless commitment.
“You can’t put an unsafe driver in a safe truck and expect it to be safe.”
He noted that Linfox implemented its own in-house strategy – Vision Zero – after realising that it would need a culture of safety in order to keep its people and the public safe. “We invest in technology to enhance that, but it starts with culture first,” he added. “We’ve reduced our LTIFR (Lost Time Injury Frequency Rate) by 90 per cent since 2006 so we’re getting something right, but we can never be complacent.
“Industry, government and road users have a role to play in creating a culture of safety on our roads.”
Mazurek added that it is crucial the Federal Government uses its influence in the best way. “The Government role is about creating consistency for the industry,” he said. “On a policy level, it is critical to align national heavy vehicle legislation across Australia to make operations simpler, more efficient and safer. This includes heavy vehicle maintenance standards, driver medical standards and heavy vehicle licencing.
“We’d also like to see greater restrictions on older vehicles and trailing equipment. We commend the work of the Australian Logistics Council and the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator in building momentum on this issue.”
Linfox would also like to see the Government advancing policy in mandatory telematics to assist with the management of speed, fatigue, mass and maintenance, and the development of an environment conducive to innovation, enabling technology to be trialled and implemented quickly, Mazurek shared.

Toll MD submits truck safety plan to PM

Michael Byrne, Managing Director of Australian transport and logistics company Toll Group, has submitted a six-point national truck safety plan to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and all road and road safety ministers across Australia.
“Australia has a dire road safety problem,” Byrne wrote in a letter to Turnbull. “Our approach to heavy vehicles in this country is core to tackling this issue. It’s time for a genuinely national approach to heavy vehicle regulation.”
He noted that, having heard from government and academic experts on improving safety, he wanted to give his own suggestions, as “the leader of Australia’s largest transport and logistics company,” former leader of “the second largest transport company,” Linfox, and a second-generation industry veteran who has worked in the industry since he was 13 years old.
In his letter, Byrne called for Turnbull to address six critical areas.
First, he requested a national rule book, which would provide a common definition for ‘heavy vehicle’, and consistent approaches across states for driver fatigue, speed limits, heavy-vehicle regulation and licensing.
“The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator was supposed to deliver one rule book,” he said. “It hasn’t. Western Australia and the Northern Territory have refused to sign up to the national law. And so today, Australian road freight operators are subject to multiple and overlapping rules at the local council, state and national level.”
Second, Bryne stated the need for the introduction of an operator licensing system to ensure safety and competence, to bring the industry in line with others such as maritime, rail and aviation. “In road transport, virtually anyone with a truck, a driver and an ABN (Australian Business Number) can be a road freight operator,” he said. “Most comparable countries have an operator licensing system for road transport.”
Third, he wrote, road safety won’t be achieved by industry alone, the community, government, enforcement and road safety bodies must also do their parts. “We know that in 93 per cent of fatalities involving a truck, the other party was at fault,” he said. “Yet national and safe road safety strategies are silent on how light vehicle drivers can ‘share the road’ safely with trucks.”
Fourth, he called for government incentive to encourage safe behaviour. “Governments can incentivise and reward safe behaviours from heavy-vehicle operators,” he wrote. “Discounted registration and stamp duty fees could be offered to operators with sound safety records.”
Fifth, Byrne advised the Government to mandate telematics for all new heavy vehicles. “Mandatory telematics on every vehicle will identify operators that systematically and deliberately speed, overload vehicles and push fatigue limits,” he said.
Bryne’s sixth proposal was for the Government to ensure operators such Toll Group are actively engaged in debate and policy development regarding road safety. “Any discussion on heavy-vehicle regulation must draw on private sector expertise to truly understand how we can overcome the obstacles that are holding us back from creating safer roads for our community,” he wrote.
A spokesperson for Barnaby Joyce, the recently appointed Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, told the Sydney Morning Herald that several of Byrne’s points had merit and would be considered.
“Even though there is no general consensus in the industry on some of the proposed initiatives, we will continue to work with industry and stakeholders to improve heavy-vehicle safety,” the spokesperson said.
Toll Group’s call for a national approach to road safety follows the Australian Truck Association’s (ATA) announcement on 12 January of its partnership with the National Road Safety Partnership Program, which aims to spread knowledge and information across all industries about managing risk and reducing the road toll.
The ATA also called for the Federal Government to allocate $12 million in funding to road safety, establish a National Road Safety Commission, and give responsibility for investigating truck accidents to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.
In late 2017, Toll Group announced its own plans to position safety culture at the centre of its operations, with Byrne saying at the time that safety “is common to all of us and a non-negotiable.”

QLD boosts safety on road-freight network

Queensland will roll out of three new automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras across the state’s road freight network.
Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Darren Chester said the new cameras would monitor heavy vehicles, boosting heavy-vehicle safety and providing another step towards a national heavy-vehicle compliance network.
“The high-tech monitoring cameras will be used to encourage safer driving practices on our major heavy vehicle routes and freight network,” Chester said.
“The first of three new cameras has been installed at Goodna, with further cameras to be installed over the next 12 months at Barcaldine and near Morven in regional Queensland. The new cameras are being delivered in conjunction with the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) and will continue to target safety on key freight corridors and black spots.”
Federal Member for Maranoa David Littleproud welcomed the introduction of cameras near Morven and Barcaldine.
“Trucks and heavy vehicles are the lifeblood of our transport network in the bush,” he said. “The Coalition is heavily investing in upgrading key freight corridors throughout regional Queensland to not only make sure transportation happens efficiently, but also to keep our roads safe.
“Near Morven is a junction between the Warrego and Landsborough Highways and near Barcaldine is where the Capricorn and Landsborough Highways meet. These two areas represent very important transportation connections in my electorate so it makes sense safety is a priority.
“These cameras will be a part of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator’s National Compliance Information System, which will amalgamate compliance and camera data from states and territories to provide a national set of heavy vehicle–related compliance and monitoring data.”
NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitto said putting more cameras on the ground was a critical step towards better data sharing across borders and would reinforce efforts to make Australia’s major freight networks safer.
“As we bring these cameras online, authorities can better detect risky behaviour and unsafe practices by heavy vehicles on our roads, which helps narrow our focus for compliance and enforcement efforts,” he said. “National visibility of vehicle movements will allow the NHVR and other enforcement agencies to identify drivers and operators who systematically flout fatigue laws.”
The NHVR is currently working with other state road transport authorities to identify additional camera sites along the busiest freight routes to maximise heavy vehicle monitoring capability.
In April, five sites along major Australian freight routes were identified and fitted with ANPR cameras, on the Hume Freeway at Wallan, Calder Freeway at Gisbourne, Western Freeway at Ballan, Goulburn Valley Freeway at Murchison and the Princess Freeway at Yarragon.
Each camera site costs between $200,000 and $800,000 to establish, depending on what infrastructure, power, communications and security facilities are already in place.

Seeing Machines fatigue system wins BHP contract

Seeing Machines has won a $1.5 million order for its Driver State System which uses driver eye tracking technology to monitor fatigue.

It comes after a 17 truck trial at BHP's Pilbara iron ore operations.

According to the company 110 trucks will implement the technology, which uses eye tracking and facial recognition technology to measure truck drivers fatigue.

It will be installed on the 87 truck fleet at Mining Area C and into the 23 truck fleet at Eastern Ridge.

In a company statement Seeing Machines CEO Ken Kroger said "the mining industry is acknowledging and supporting the advances being delivered with the DSS technology, and the integral role that eye tracking technology has to play in keeping their operators safe.

"The technology is fast becoming indispensable in the industry as a means to maximise worker safety and we are glad that this, along with our absolute commitment to the highest levels of service for our customers, is being recognised. This order re-affirms our confidence in our expectations for the full year

"We look forward to working with BHP Billiton at its Iron Ore sites in the Pilbara, supported by Caterpillar and by WesTrac in Western Australia".

In May this year the company signed a massive strategic agreement with Caterpillar to roll out the technology, known as the Driver State System (DSS), in Cat's machines, as part of the manufacturer's wider MineStar system.

At the time Cat said "the alliance with Seeing machines is a natural progression of Caterpillar Global Mining'swork to mitigate fatigue issues in mining activities".

It is reportedly working on 20 mine sites across 1500 vehicles.

During a Caterpillar presentation in Brisbane last month Cat demonstrated the technology to Australian Mining, explaining that it uses adash mounted camera to track the driver's eye and facial movement and head positioning to not only track drowsiness and microsleeps but also to ensurethey remain focused on driving and aren't distracted during operation.

It uses in cabin mitigation techniques"such as an audio alert and seat vibration, which would wake the dead," they told Australian Mining.

Unlike many other fatigue monitoringsystems in the market, the DSS system is 'untethered', which means drivers do not have to wear measuring caps or glasses that are plugged in to an in-cabin system.

The system also reached a milestone last month with contractor Toll Mining Services, which installed the 100th system into their fleet.

Toll first trialled it at Anglo American's German Creek coal mine in July 2011, where Toll says it was able to quickly reduce the number of distraction events by 70 per cent on site.

Following this it then rolled out thesystem amongst its other fleets in Queensland's north west, the Pilbara and increased its presence in central Queensland.

Truckies who use caffeine less likely to crash: report

A study has found that long-distance truckies who use caffeine to stay awake are less likely to have an accident.

The report was conducted over three years to 2011 and involved more than 1000 drivers from NSW and Western Australia.

It found that drivers who consumed caffeine were 63 per cent less likely to crash.

Researchers found that 43 per cent of drivers were using stimulants such as tea, coffee, energy drinks and caffeine tablets to manage fatigue.

Lead author of the report Lisa Sharwood, from the George Institute for Global Health said the use of such measures should be used sparingly.

“This may seem effective in enhancing their alertness, but it should be considered carefully in the context of a safe and healthy fatigue management strategy,” she said.

“Energy drinks and coffee certainly don’t replace the need for sleep.”

A report earlier this year found that while truck crashes are decreasing in NSW,  an alarming surge of heavy vehicle accidents in both Queensland and Western Australia.

The NTARC report attributes the rising accident rate on the increase in road transport necessitated by the booming mining industry, the ABC reports.

Queensland’s Bruce Highway is the worst culprit, struggling to keep up with the large numbers of heavy vehicles using the road.

Although extensive roadworks are underway, critics say there are not enough overtaking lanes or rest areas.

The NTARC report goes beyond pinning the accidents to poor road conditions and names driver fatigue as another factor.

The research incorporated the analysis of driver’s log books in order to assess if ‘over-work’ affected fatigue and crashes.

Image: abc.com

Ministers support training package for new fatigue laws

The Australian Transport Council (ATC) has unanimously endorsed a training package to support heavy vehicle driver fatigue accreditation.
 
New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia are working toward implementing the national Heavy Vehicle Driver Fatigue reform on 29 September 2008.
 
Drivers and schedulers working under the new Basic Fatigue Management (BFM) or Advanced Fatigue Management (AFM) schemes must now demonstrate that they are competent at managing fatigue risks. Drivers working under Standard Hours will not be impacted.
 
“It’s basically a step-up from the existing Transitional Fatigue Management Scheme (TFMS) training requirements”, said National Transport Commission (NTC) chief executive Nick Dimopoulos.
 
“Drivers will have their existing training and skills recognised, so many will only need to complete a ‘top-up’ course.”
Drivers currently accredited in the TFMS scheme can operate under BFM hours until 30 April 2009. This provides more time to complete the training.
 
A Statement of Attainment in the following competencies can be obtained from Registered Training Organisations (RTO):
·          TLIF1007C Apply fatigue management strategies (for drivers)
·          TKIF6307A Administer the implementation of fatigue management strategies (for schedulers)
 
More information on training, including a list of RTOs offering competency units, has been published on the NTC website.
 
NTC has developed an extensive national communications package to assist transport operators, drivers and other parties in the supply chain. An Implementation Kit includes bulletins, fatigue and napping guidelines, self-assessment tools, presentations and promotional material.
 
“Commencement of the new laws is less than six months away. I’d encourage everyone in the supply chain to understand how the new laws impact on your business and what you need to do, such as training drivers and schedulers,” Mr Dimopoulos added.
 
Content on the NTC website is free and available for download in the Heavy Vehicle Driver Fatigue reform section (www.ntc.gov.au).
 
Check road agency websites for the latest information on reform implementation in your State or Territory.
Ministers also approved the BFM and AFM Standards, Assessor and Enforcement Officer Guidelines, minor amendments to the model legislation and a new national Work Diary.
 
Basic Fatigue Management (BFM) Standards
 
Advanced Fatigue Management (AFM) Standards
 
Assessor Guidelines
 
 
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