DE­VICE TO AS­SESS FA­TIGUE

CAL­CU­LAT­ING THE COST

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page -

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.

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