Dozing truckies get wake-up call
❝ I’m very impressed with what I’ve seen here today. — Michael McCormack, transport minister
ONE of Australia’s largest trucking companies is rolling out new technology in a bid to stop drivers falling asleep at the wheel.
Toll Group has fitted infra-red devices to more than 1100 trucks in its national fleet to capture the face of drivers, so if they shut their eyes or look away from the road, their seat will vibrate and an alarm will sound.
Drivers “appreciate the support, they see it for what it is about them being safe”, company spokesman Jacques van Niekerk told reporters in Melbourne, adding that there are plans to roll out the technology to all trucks.
“We have never had an accident so far where people have fallen asleep where we have the equipment on board,” Mr van Niekerk said at the unveiling of Toll’s new 24/7 Control Room.
“We get a lot of alerts as we go on; seven alerts in the past week.”
A message is sent to monitors in the US before coming back to the company’s Tullamarine state-ofthe-art nerve centre within two minutes, he said.
After a driver is caught, they’ll get a call from the control room and be asked to pull over for a forced 30-minute break.
They’ll have to answer questions about how much sleep they’ve had and also other issues that may impact their ability to drive.
The driver is then monitored for the remainder of their trip. Repeat alerts mean drivers will face tougher questions. In some instances a replacement driver will be sent to take over the trip.
“It’s a big push to get it in. It is absolutely about safety,” Mr van Niekerk said.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack opened the new facility.
“It is an important milestone, not only for Toll, but for the community and industry in our quest to improve road safety across Australia,” Mr McCormack said, who also helms the federal transport portfolio.
“It shows how industry can harness the benefits of new transport technology, to solve real-life problems, an aim supported by the Liberal and Nationals’ Government.
“I am very impressed with what I’ve seen here today. It is clear a significant amount of expertise has been invested by Toll in this facility to support drivers and the community.”
SAFETY FIRST: Toll Group is retrofitting its fleet with the latest safety equipment.