Driver tiredness is one of the biggest threats on our roads at the moment. Driver tiredness claims thousands of lives every year – more than drink driving. If you don’t believe us, consider this:
- Almost 20% of major accidents on the road are sleep-related
- Sleep-related accidents are more likely than others to result in a fatality or serious injury
- Peak times for accidents are in the early hours and after lunch
- Men under 30 have the highest risk of falling asleep at the wheel
- About 40% of sleep related accidents involve commercial vehicles
So how can we take action to reduce the number of sleep related accidents caused by professional HGV drivers?
So How Can Technology Help?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a technology that can give us the feeling of being rested and refreshed in 5 seconds. We will all be very excited when that happens! No, at the moment, the best we can hope for is relying on drivers to manage their sleep cycles in accordance with drivers regulations laws. Until now. Earlier this year, a Hong Kong based academic by the name of Professor Cheung Yiu-Ming developed an app that could mean a significant reduction in sleep related accidents for HGV drivers. This app utilises the dashcam already installed in the HGV and is constantly scanning the drivers face for signs of tiredness, such as drooping eyelids, sloping shoulders or a yawning mouth. If it detects these things, it will set off a loud alarm designed to alert the driver of the need to stop and rest. The driver can now decide how to remedy their tiredness. This could be stopping for the night to sleep, or finding a roadside café for a cup of strong coffee. This style of technology is automated and preventative, rather than analytical. So instead of trying to understand what went wrong after the fact, the app can act as a real time preventative measure that could save lives. While dashcams aren’t legally required, they are installed in 90% of HGV’s for safety and insurance reasons, making them the perfect tool to use for this purpose.
What Does This Mean?
At the moment, the majority of dashcams installed in HGV’s are there to protect the driver in case of accident. They are aimed at the road, and designed to capture the fault of any accident the HGV is involved in. Many HGV’s also have cameras installed on their sides and rear as well, in order to get a complete picture. The footage from these cameras is very rarely viewed unless there is an accident. But the idea of having a camera pointing in the other direction – at the driver – represents another level of monitoring altogether. On one hand, the footage of a driver driving for hours is likely to be incredibly dull for anyone who has to watch it, but on the other hand, it could be invaluable in terms of monitoring best practices, distractions and, of course, tiredness. By utilising inward facing cameras, haulage companies will be able to see if their drivers are being distracted by phones or other elements if they cause an accident. But detecting and taking action to prevent driver tiredness is one of the bigger issues in the haulage industry, and this app could well be the answer. While it might seem on the face like an invasion of a drivers privacy (and we are expecting some complaints about this one) ultimately it is no different to having a supervisor working at the desk next to you.
At The LGV Training Company, we believe in being at the cutting edge of driver technology, including this wonderful new discovery. We pride ourselves in delivering the highest standard of training and knowledge to all our aspiring HGV drivers, including a thorough understanding of the true risks of driver tiredness and how it can be managed. The tiredness app can be used with any smartphone, and is likely to hit the stored very soon. For more information, or to find out how you can prevent drivers tiredness every day, get in touch with us today.
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