The Federal Transport Minister, Darren Chester, has announced a project to investigate driver alertness, sleep patterns and safety risks associated with reduced concentration in the heavy vehicle transport industry. Outcomes of the driver fatigue research will be used to better inform future fatigue policy and make our roads safer, the Minister said.
Driver fatigue is one of the main causes of road accidents involving heavy vehicles, contributing to approximately 22 per cent of all recorded incidents across the country.
“The annual economic cost of road crashes in Australia is estimated to be around $27 billion, and that doesn’t even begin to touch on the grief and pain suffered by families,” Mr Chester said.
He has committed $828,000 in funding for the next two years and anticipates that the research findings will be available to transport ministers in 2018.
It is hoped that the research will give policy-makers a greater understanding of truck driver fatigue, and help to find solutions to reduce heavy vehicle fatigue-related road incidents.
“Australia has traditionally been a world leader in road safety, thanks to measures like compulsory seatbelts, speed limits and random breath testing. But we can’t become complacent by not continuing to invest in new initiatives to reduce the frequency and severity of road accidents.
“Although we’ve seen significant improvements in safety since the introduction of fatigue regulations, the fact remains that fatigue kills,” Mr Chester said.
The data collected through this research will be crucial in assessing the effectiveness of Australia’s current framework and will help deliver a more contemporary risk-based approach, he said.
“My Department will collaborate with the National Transport Commission, the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator, universities and industry on this research to give us a clearer picture of our road safety challenge,” Mr Chester said.
The Cooperative Research Centre for Alertness, Safety and Productivity will oversee the project.
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