Ron Finemore Transport has participated in a world-first study with researchers from Monash University’s Accident Research Centre (MUARC), in partnership with Seeing Machines and Volvo Trucks Australia, that tested fatigue prevention and driver-monitoring technology. The Advanced Safe Truck Concept represents the largest and most comprehensive study into driver behaviour using naturalistic (real-life) driving.
Phase One of the study was conducted by MUARC’s researchers in a new purpose-built truck simulator based at MUARC. Drivers were tested in both a resting and fatigued state to provide a complete picture of the effects of fatigue on driving safety.
Phase Two of the study was conducted in 10 of Ron Finemore Transport’s actual working fleet trucks which were fitted with Seeing Machine’s new driver behaviour monitoring technology. The technology system consists of small cameras and connected sensors installed in-cab that detect head position, blinking eyes and in a breakthrough innovation, the technology can now detect where the driver is looking.
The MUARC team also created a comprehensive distraction warning system for drivers. An alarm signals in the event of driver fatigue or distraction and the driver’s seat vibrates rapidly. A real-time alert is also sent by satellite to Ron Finemore Transport via Seeing Machines Guardian 24/7 monitoring centre so the driver can be contacted and a fatigue management plan can be initiated.
MUARC researchers say the data collected enabled the team to accurately detect the drivers’ level of fatigue well before a safety critical event occurred such as a micro-sleep.
Researchers conducted tests on drivers under different conditions. They were sleep deprived and then intentionally distracted during the two hour simulation with a total of 29 crashes recorded. The study findings were that drivers were twice as likely to crash when they were fatigued and 11 times more likely to crash when they were both fatigued and distracted. Over 100 drivers were enrolled and monitored over a period of nine months with a collective of 22,000 trips completed and 1.5 million kilometres travelled.
“It’s the first time this type of technology has been tested in a fleet of trucks going about their normal business operations – and because of this, drowsiness and distraction can be detected earlier and with incredibly high accuracy.” said associate director of MUARC, associate professor Michael Fitzharris.
World-first technology is detecting truckies at risk of falling asleep. The safety system could soon be fitted to all new cars sold in Australia. https://t.co/5zYfOfohG3 @LouisaCheatley #7NEWS pic.twitter.com/CjGZYdYDRF
— 7NEWS Melbourne (@7NewsMelbourne) March 10, 2020
“Driver monitoring systems of this type and sophistication will have significant road safety benefits, not just for trucks but for future passenger vehicles.”
“With driver distraction and drowsiness known to be key contributors to road fatalities and injuries globally, this research will enable the implementation of highly advanced and sophisticated driver monitoring technology that will play a key role in reducing the number of people killed and injured on our roads in the future.” he continued.
“This is not just for trucks, but all passenger vehicles. This will improve the safety of all road users, including pedestrians and cyclists.”
Dr Lenné, Seeing Machines’s program lead, says the partnership project “Has resulted in the pioneering of advanced technology that positions Australia as a leader in driver monitoring technology innovation.”
“It will allow Australia to influence the global approach to the regulation of professional driving and improve heavy vehicle safety.” he added.
The study is seen as a proving ground for the evolution of new forms of intelligent machines and sensor technology that aims to improve road safety, reduce heavy vehicle crashes, improve driver well-being and help better manage driver fatigue.
“Our government is proud to support initiatives like this project that allows industry, academia and government to work to not only explore best technologies available but also make a real contribution to road safety.” said Federal Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Hon Scott Buchholz who attended MUARC to announce the findings.
Ron Finemore Transport is committed to the ‘world’s best practice in driver and fleet safety’ and are honoured to have been able to contribute and participate in the pioneering study.
“We are extremely proud to have been part of a project that addresses a critical need to develop validated solutions to better manage truck driver behaviour and safety,” said Mark Parry, Ron Finemore Transport Managing Director.
“This technology is central to Ron Finemore’s approach to safety.”
“The company places the highest priority on safety and this technology gives us the tools to ensure our drivers are operating safely and efficiently.”
“By allowing researchers to work with our truck drivers directly, they now have a detailed understanding of their tasks, needs, and driving environments.”
“We see this approach as the future for regulating fleet safety across the board. Our fleet operates across a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week operation to meet the needs of communities by ensuring that daily necessities such as food and fuel are available when needed.” he continued.
“Keeping our drivers safe and being able to detect fatigue and distraction prior to an incident or accident will help keep our drivers and other road users safe.”
“This will support our company’s proactive approach to driver safety and wellbeing – which is at the centre of our business from culture to operations.”