DEVICE TO ASSESS FATIGUE
CALCULATING THE COST
ACALCULATOR that gauges driver fatigue will soon be available as a mobile phone application and at touchscreen kiosks across Australia.
Former hospitality worker Natalie Tindale invented the Fatigue Calculator after experiencing ‘‘ micro sleeps’’ while driving after working 12-hour shifts for 14 days straight.
‘‘It was a real wake-up call,’’ she says. The calculator was developed over 12 months in collaboration with Prof Drew Dawson, director of the Centre for Sleep Research at the University of South Australia.
It will be available as a mobile phone ‘‘app’’ next month at iTunes for less than $50, and at www.fatigue calculator.com.au
It might also be available soon on touchscreen kiosks at service stations, rest stops on highways, truck depots and selected work sites.
Dawson says fatigue is one of the ‘‘fatal four’’ causes of road accidents, along with drink-driving, speeding and not wearing seatbelts.
Tindale says her calculator allows the user to plan how much sleep they need before long work shifts or driving stints. She says that, just as a blood alcohol reading of 0.05 is the benchmark for alcohol impairment, the fatigue calculator offers a benchmark fatigue reading.
The user enters information into the calculator on how much sleep they have had in the past 24 and 48 hours and how many hours they have been awake. The calculator then gives a ‘‘Fatigue Likelihood Score’’ of either low, moderate, high or extreme fatigue.
Law student Nicole Seeney, 23, uses the calculator while juggling a fulltime job as a real estate marketing manager and full-time external study.
‘‘I’m quite busy. I get up at 5am to study on the web and I’m often up really late. It’s not uncommon for me to be quite tired, so it’s important to know if it’s safe to drive,’’ she says.
‘‘My dad is in the transport industry and he thinks it’s really important for me to be aware of how much fatigue impacts on your driving skills.’’
Helpful app: Nicole Seeney says it’s important to know how much fatigue affects your driving skills.