The Victorian Government is experimenting with the use of road-side fatigue testing in a bid to tackle the State’s surging heavy vehicle crash numbers.
The $850,000 program conducted by VicRoads and Monash University is investigating whether tests for extreme fatigue can be conducted in a similar way to current roadside alcohol and drug testing.
Researchers are keeping drivers awake for up to 32 hours before conducting a two-hour drive on a controlled track, supervised by a qualified instructor in a dual-control vehicle.
Drivers are tested before and after their drive to measure the involuntary movement of their pupils – a measure strongly linked with increased fatigue.
So far in 2019, 42 people have been killed in crashes involving heavy vehicles on Victorian roads, compared with 28 in all of 2018.
Of the fatalities this year, 14 deaths have been truck drivers and their passengers, 16 were other vehicle drivers and their passengers, one bus driver, three motorcyclists, three cyclists and five pedestrians.
The State Government said it continues to work with the industry, investing in programs and initiatives dedicated to improving heavy vehicle safety for all road users.
This includes a recently announced $4 million program to develop a heavy vehicle training program in partnership with the Victorian Transport Association and providers, that will put drivers through their paces to improve driving skills and develop safety-first attitudes.
A recent study from the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) found many crashes involving heavy vehicles were caused by other motorists. Minister for Road Safety and the TAC Jaala Pulford said all road users shared a degree of responsibility when it came to safety.
“In what has been a tragic year on our roads, we have seen a worrying trend in the number of people dying in crashes involving heavy vehicles and everyone needs to be aware of the risks when driving around trucks.”
Meanwhile, the NHVR has launched the ‘Tell a Mate’ campaign that encourages people in the industry to chat to their mates about things like fatigue, driving safely around trucks, and etiquette around using truck rest stops.
It is reminding PCBUs that fatigue management is a primary duty – a driver must not drive a fatigue-regulated heavy vehicle on a road while impaired by fatigue.