New smart steering wheels monitor heart rate to target truck driver fatigue

Fourteen-hour days and middle-of-the-night starts are not unusual for Goulburn truck driver Adam Craig.Long and erratic shifts aside, he loves his job.But they can take their toll.”Some days you could be happy as Larry for fourteen hours and not get tired at all, but then some days you could do two hours and want to pull up for a sleep,” he said.”You do have to stop and have a break, otherwise, things do go wrong.”But the 25-year-old said finding a safe place to pull over is far from easy, with parking bays often overflowing with cars and caravans.”Then we have to go even further to pull up, so it does get tiring,” he said.

Truck drivers are fifteen times more likely to die of fatigue than other workers.Last year alone, 185 people died in crashes involving heavy trucks on Australian roads.And fatigue, which raises the crash or near-crash risk between four to six times, is often the first factor looked at when a truck driver dies behind the wheel.That’s why Mr. Craig welcomes a pilot “smart steering wheel” that monitors a driver’s heart rate and fatigue, while also predicting the onset of tiredness.The idea was the focus of a truck driver fatigue hackathon in Canberra this week.