An 18 month project aims to effectively evaluate the effect of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) on heavy vehicle driver fatigue.
The project is being carried out by the Cooperative Research Centre for Alertness, Safety and Productivity (Alertness CRC) and the National Transport Commission (NTC).
Researchers will seek evidence on the impact of work scheduling practices on heavy vehicle driver fatigue and drivers sleep quality and quantity.
The research is the first in Australia, and will allow us to better evaluate the impact of current laws on heavy vehicle driver fatigue.
Researchers will utilize alertness detection methods and sleep monitoring devices to aid in future fatigue reforms.
Alertness CRC CEO Anthony Williams explained,
“The CRC’s key mission is to conduct research and develop new products and services that will improve alertness, safety and productivity for individuals and within organisations,”
“Through our partnership with the NTC, and with the support of our other industry and academic partners, this project will facilitate the best research to support HVNL fatigue laws and deliver the safest outcomes for heavy vehicle drivers and operators.”
The study will measure driver sleep patterns and drowsiness in a lab and on the road, using the latest alertness measurement technologies and a combination of research and industry based expertise, facilitated by Alertness CRC.
Paul Retter, NTC chief executive went on to explain:
“Our role is to help improve the productivity, safety and environmental performance of Australia’s road, rail and intermodal transport systems,”
“We do this by proposing and developing national reforms and helping to ensure that those reform outcomes approved by ministers are realised on the ground.”
Money from Transport for New South Wales, The Institute for Breathing and Sleep and Monash University for the research amounted to $828,000 for federal funding.
This funding received criticism from the Transport Workers Union (TWU), comparing it with the Coalition government’s abolition of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT).
Michael Kaine, TWU acting national secretary said financial pressure is the real problem forcing operators and drivers into long driving shifts and subsequently fatigued driving. He went on to explain:
“We had a tribunal in place which was investigating this problem and holding wealthy retailers and manufacturers to account for low cost contracts which are at the root of the problem.
“The Federal Government tore this tribunal down and now it is spending public money to make it look like it cares about deaths in truck crashes. In reality it is starting to look like they realise they got it wrong.”