Advanced Safety Truck Concept to help understand fatigue

By mid-2019 the National Road Transport Association expects it will be able to inform the proposed review of the Heavy Vehicle National Law for an overdue reform of fatigue laws it announced last week.

Results from current monitoring technology and how best to alert commercial vehicle operators are likely to become available by then as the industry body looks to accelerate the uptake of proven vehicle safety technologies.

Although the influence of fatigue as a factor in reported road crashes is still largely unknown current estimates, according to NatRoad, indicate that eight to 20 per cent of all crashes are fatigue-related.

In order to refine current fatigue monitoring systems to accurately predict fatigue events, further study is required of fatigue metrics like body responses, breath rate, posture and eye movement – if industry and government bodies are serious about achieving a vision of zero road deaths.

The Advanced Safe Truck Concept (ASTC) project, supported by the Cooperative Research Centre Projects funding scheme, will bring together technology, research and operational expertise to develop innovative driver state sensing concept for use in commercial vehicles.

The Australian Government Funded Cooperative Research Centre Programme Research is conducting data gathering and research for the project in collaboration with an ASTC consortium involving Seeing Machines and Monash University, among others.

Drivers are providing data to the Monash University Accident Research Centre from real world operational environments.

Ten trucks have been fitted with a new sensing platform where data has been collected over a six-month period. This is estimated to generate over 30,000 hours of real-world data that is critical for technology development.

“This is a significant research effort to develop enhanced technology to measure and predict driver states in real-time, using Seeing Machines’ driver monitoring technology as the core sensing means,” said NatRoad in an online statement.

“The aim is to link driver monitoring systems to events happening outside of the cab (forward-facing) and link this monitoring to other technologies available in heavy vehicles.”

“A further aspect is the ultimate aim of all heavy vehicles having in situ technology that records location so that it detects road conditions and important safety variables such as speed limits, lane widths, forward merging points, as well as inputs on congestion and incidents.”

“In some ways, these technologies all exist now, but are not linked.”

Long distance award extended to include part-time drivers

The Road Transport (Long Distance Operations) Award 2010 has been updated by the Fair Work Commission to include the provision of part-time drivers.

It comes after the National Road Transport Association (NatRoad) lodged a claim to introduce part-time work in the Long Distance Award. A full bench decision was handed down on 5 July, with the determination updated on 28 February.

AiG lodged a similar claim before part-time employment was agreed by the commission. The safeguards mean employers will be forced to pay financial penalties if drivers on part-time arrangements work full-time hours, ensuring benefits such as annual leave, superannuation and allowances are provided.

The award stipulates that a part-time employee is an an employee engaged by an employer for an average of less than 38 ordinary hours per week over 28 days. Before commencing part-time employment, the employee and employer have to agree upon the days of the week of which the employee will be required to commence work, the maximum number of ordinary hours of work per week, or the maximum weekly average number of ordinary hours of work calculated over a period of no more than 28 days. The terms may vary by genuine agreements between employer and employee which must be made in writing, with the maximum number of days agreed upon being three. NatRoads is able to assist members in writing an agreement.

An agreement was also made for an additional 15 per cent loading where a part-time employee works on a non-agreed day on the cents per kilometre rates, hour driving rates and amount payable under previous clauses. A part-time employee paid by the cent per kilometre method must receive a minimum payment per day for 500km. There are also specific provisions for holiday pay and the guaranteed minimum fortnightly payment applying to long-distance drivers.

Last year, the commission warned about the attempt to bring in part-time work without safeguards.

You can read the full determination, which was made on 28 February here.