WAKE UP TO TECH: Mick Carter demonstrates the game-changing Guardian system in Brisbane.
WAKE UP TO TECH: Mick Carter demonstrates the game-changing Guardian system in Brisbane. James Graham

Asleep for 5.95s doing 100k

MICK Carter now flatly refuses to let any operator trial the Seeing Machines' Guardian technology without the seat vibration tool turned on right out of the box.

The Guardian expert for Connect Source, Seeing Machines' exclusive Queensland agent, said he's seen one too many shocking videos of drivers literally asleep at the wheel, without even knowing it.

While hosting a seminar during the KPMG Insights Centre program at the Brisbane Truck Show, Fatigue and Distraction, insights and implications on the transport industry, Mick told Big Rigs of one unsuspecting driver who had been filmed dozing for almost six seconds.

"He was asleep for 5.95 seconds while driving at 100km/h, that's 400 metres with his eyes shut and he had absolutely no idea," Mick said.

"He got very emotional. His reputation as a truck professional was being challenged and threatened because here he was snoozing at 100km/h with a fully-loaded truck up the Pacific Highway. So he said 'can you please turn on the seat vibration immediately, I don't want to drive like that', and he walked out and told the other drivers all of us need this thing."

He relayed that story to illustrate the first of three major misconceptions that currently underpin our fatigue management laws, 1) A driver knows when they're tired [stats show he/she doesn't], 2) Fatigue only impacts those who drive in the middle of the night, and 3) Only those who drive long hours need worry about fatigue.

Mick said studies clearly show that drivers may think they know when they're tired, but when they enter what sleep scientists call 'micro-sleep' they really have no idea.

He shared another incident that the Seeing Machines tech captured of a truckie unaware he was asleep as he drove over a bridge.

To dispel the myth that those who drive in the wee small hours are more susceptible to fatigue, Mick also revealed results from a major UK study.

More than one million fatigue 'events' were monitored, but they were found to be spread evenly around the clock.

Equally surprising were the results of how far into the shift most fatigue-related 'events' were occurring - between just 60-90 minutes after turning the key.

"So, when you look at the driver hours and rest break scenarios, we're actually causing ourselves some real dramas," Mick said.

"We're forcing drivers to drive five hours, but what they want is a break after about an hour and a half."

Mick said the research from Seeing Machines turns conventional thinking around fatigue management best practices on its head.

"I've worked in telematics for years and this discussion around fatigue swirling around me for years, then you find out this, that we've been completely and utterly wrong."

Using Guardian's real-time alerts, however, long haul fleets can reduce fatigue events by upwards of 90 per cent, we were told.

Mick's seminar in Brisbane also talked about the role distraction plays in accidents, with the mobile phone clearly pegged as the number one culprit.

"If you don't think you're addicted to your phone, leave it at home one day. The level of anxiety you feel will give you the level of addiction you have."