During the ATA’s 2015 conference it came to light that Toll Mining Services are making use of in-vehicle monitoring systems and it has helped them get fatigue under control. The company was last year’s recipient of the Australian Trucking Association’s (ATA) Training Excellence Award due to this pro-active approach to safety.
The monitoring system utilized by Toll alerts the driver and the company as soon as fatigue starts to kick in, which according to company representative, Geoff Massey has proven effective in fighting fatigue.
Toll is making use of the system that is called Driver State Sensor (DSS) system, which they say allows them to address the problem of driver fatigue in real time, rather than having to deal with the consequences later on. The in-vehicle camera systems detect when a driver becomes sleepy by tracking eyelid movements.
The company’s regional health, safety and environment manager Geoff Massey explained at the Trucking Australia conference how the use of this technology has helped the company get driver fatigue in check.
When drivers begin to fall asleep, indicated by micro-sleeps, their seat will vibrate, thereby alerting them to the fatigue issue and waking them up.
Mr Massey explained:
“Basically these cameras look at the length of blink of an eyelid and when you get really fatigued you start to have what we call micro sleeps and these can be two to three seconds,” Massey says.
“When he [the truck driver] has a micro sleep the sensor detects that and the seat vibrates to wake him up.
In addition to the driver being alerted, supervisors are also alerted by the system,
“There’s also an audio alert [that] goes out and emails go out to our supervisors at site so at a business unit level there is information travelling to our supervisors who then ring up the driver so that they can talk to him and say, ‘take a break, get out of the cab, walk around your vehicle’.”
But the benefits of the system don’t stop there, they also allow the company to keep a record of fatigue incidents. Toll makes weekly reports on the number of incidents to ensure that they keep the issue of fatigue under control. They say the system has helped them avoid a number of serious fatigue-related crashes. It also allows drivers to be more aware of the number of micro-sleeps they are having.
He went on to explain:
“What is very telling though is when we see the driver have a micro sleep and we’ve talked to him and said please step out of the cab, he complies but nine times out of 10 he says, ‘I don’t feel fatigued, there is nothing wrong with me’,” he says.
“It is not until we take him back into the office and replay the video of him blinking that he’s absolutely stunned.
During the conference it also emerged that the company utilises a number of other methods to keep crashes at bay including limiting truck speeds to 90km/h and installing ABS and EBS braking to prevent rollovers which are all too common in the trucking industry.