Driver tiredness is, without a doubt, one of the most serious and yet underrated issues facing drivers today. If you don’t believe us, consider the fact that:
- 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
Given that most commercial vehicles are driven by professional long-distance drivers, this shouldn’t come as too much of a shock. Hours of focusing on the road and navigating other drivers, followed by complex manoeuvres and manual labour would be enough to put anyone to sleep, let along doing it all day every day. But given that it’s such an issue, how can we address it? With technology, of course!
How Will Technology Help?
Cameras are a fairly routine part of an HGV driver’s life. That’s part of what inspired Hong Kong based academic Professor Cheung Yiu-Ming to create an app that is capable of monitoring and assessing driver tiredness using a standard dashcam setup. The app uses cutting-edge technology to monitor a driver’s face for signs of tiredness, including dropping eyelids, slumping shoulders and yawning mouths. If the app detects any of these tiredness signs, it will sound an alarm that has to be manually turned off by the driver. The idea of this alarm is to alert the driver that they are dangerously tired and prompt them to take action. That action could be finding a place to stop for the night, or grabbing a coffee and splashing some water on their face to make it to the next stop, where they can rest. The main thing that sets this apart from other dashcam technology is that they don’t require any external human involvement, so can be a proactive way to manage driver tiredness. Instead of being reviewed afterwards, the AI can monitor in real time and react if danger size starts to emerge. This means that they can actively prevent accidents rather than just provide information after one.
So What Does This Mean For The HGV Industry?
While dashcams aren’t a legal requirement for HGV drivers, the vast majority do have them already installed. This is so that they can be used to check the circumstances of any accidents, and have been used to exonerate drivers who have been blamed for causing accidents that weren’t actually their fault. HGVs are also increasingly being augmented with cameras on the rear and sides for the same reason. But an inward facing camera means that if there is an accident, haulage companies and the police can view the footage and see whether the driver was distracted by a phone, radio or anything else. Detecting and taking action to prevent driver tiredness is one of the bigger issues of the haulage industry, and this app could well be the next solution. While it might seem like an invasion of the driver’s privacy (and we do expect resistance from drivers on this front), it could also be the thing that saves your life. And really, it’s not much different to having a supervisor over your shoulder.
At the HGV Driver Training Centre, we are always looking to provide tips and tricks to aspiring drivers that will help them drive efficiently and safely. So we cover the risks of driver tiredness, what drivers can do to prevent tiredness in both the long and short-term and what tools there are out there to help them. While this app isn’t available yet, we will be keeping a close eye on it and encouraging our drivers to use it when it is. For more information, or to find out more about how you can prevent tiredness when you’re driving, get in touch with us today.