Driver fatigue incidents on the rise

Thursday, 22 December, 2022 | Supplied by: AutoSense

Data from cameras installed in heavy and light vehicles is being used in a series of workshops to highlight the dangers of driver fatigue and distraction on the road.

Vehicle safety and training provider AutoSense has analysed the data from 4600 cameras installed in vehicles on New Zealand roads, and confirmed 125 verified fatigue sleep events occur while driving every day.

Charles Dawson, AutoSense CEO, said the data is worrying, particularly because sleep events have significantly increased this year.

“Dangerously, New Zealand has more tired people in charge of light and heavy vehicles on our roads this year. Our Guardian by Seeing Machines cameras detect 125 events daily where car and truck drivers are falling asleep at the wheel, meaning the driver’s eyes are closed for 1.5 seconds or more. These fatigue events were recorded from September to November this year. Alarmingly, they are up 32% on last year,” he said.

A national roadshow hosted by motorsport champion Greg Murphy and neuroscientist Nathan Wallis is aiming to improve commercial vehicle driver safety, and will visit eight New Zealand cities in 2023. Delivered by AutoSense and facilitated by road safety expert Kelly McLuckie from Success Formula, the Eyes Up NZ workshops will commence on 13 March in Auckland, and travel to Hamilton, Palmerston North, New Plymouth, Tauranga, Invercargill, Dunedin and Christchurch.

“Customers tell us that fatigue and distraction are a cultural problem in the transport and logistics sector; we need to help transport managers coach their professional drivers to better identify risks like fatigue and distraction and then work to minimise or eliminate it. We’re going to help managers to get that message across to their teams and make a change,” McLuckie said.

“Solving this challenge will need a change from everyone: leaders, dispatch, customers and drivers. We need to disrupt the current system, which is still telling drivers to be safe — but hurry up. For example, why do drivers repeatedly tell us that most of the phone calls they get are from their own companies?”

McLuckie said the 3.5-hour Eyes Up NZ workshop will include a discussion with Nathan Wallis and Greg Murphy about the impacts of fatigue, sleep and distraction, how the brain works, and tips to help with driving safety problems in workplaces.

According to Charles Dawson, the Guardian cameras are recording two peak daily fatigue times: 5 am and 11 am.

“Fatigue is one part of the safety issues we see on the cameras — the other is driver distraction. We know of the 4600 light and heavy vehicles being monitored, there have been at least 134 verified mobile phone events per day. These drivers have been viewing or talking on their mobile phones for some time while driving, and not on hands-free. These mobile distraction events increased by almost 20% from September to November this year,” Dawson said.

“We are committed to working with the transport sector to help reduce these fatigue and distraction events before they eventuate in crashes and fatalities. Our 2023 driver safety workshops will provide expert advice and tips to enable drivers and anyone involved in transport to prioritise road safety and life over death.”

Image credit: iStock.com/Michele Jackson

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