Driver tiredness is one of the biggest threats on our roads at the moment. Driver tiredness claims thousands of lives every year – more than drink driving. If you don’t believe us, consider this:
- 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
So how can we take action to reduce the number of sleep related accidents caused by professional HGV drivers?
Unfortunately, there is no special secret to feeling well rested behind the wheel. All you can do there is make sure you are sleeping properly, drinking enough water and taking regular breaks from your job. All of which is the driver’s responsibility. But thanks to Hong Kong based Professor Cheung Yiu-Ming, the monitoring of tiredness during driving could be taken away from the subjective viewpoint of the driver. Professor Yiu-Ming has created an app that utilises the top of the dashboard cameras to analyse a drivers face and check for signs of tiredness. When the app detects that driver is getting tired, it sets off an alarm, which can only be turned off manually by the driver. The AI within this app is very refined and looks for signs such as drooping eyelids, slumping shoulders and yawning mouths in order to analyse tiredness. If it detects these signs and issues an alarm, it is up to the driver to decide the most appropriate course of action, whether that’s pulling over for the night or finding some coffee and cold water to splash on their face until the next stop.
This means that the monitoring of driver tiredness is no longer a passive process. Rather than scouring through footage after shifts, the app means that tiredness monitoring can be done actively, and measures can be taken to prevent accidents, instead of sorting through the wreckage.
What Does This Mean?
While dashcams are not a legal requirement in the UK, they are installed on most HGV’s across the country for safety and insurance reasons. By having a dashcam running, HGV drivers can capture any accidents or incidents that do happen and absolve themselves of any blame categorically. For this reason, cameras are often installed on the rear and side of the HGV as well. The idea of pointing a camera in the other direction – at the driver – is interesting. On the one hand, the footage will likely be very dull and uneventful for whoever has to analyse it, but it could be invaluable in analysing behaviour patterns and providing data that could change the HGV industry. Having 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.
At Surrey & Hampshire Training, we pride ourselves on providing high-quality HGV driver training to every driver that passes through our doors. This includes rigorous training on driver tiredness, the regulations they need to abide by to ensure they aren’t driving tired, and the risks of driving HGV’s while drowsy. We are incredibly excited about this new app (which will be hitting the smartphone stores soon), and will be including it in our rotation of tools to help aspiring HGV drivers do the best job they can. For more information, please just get in touch with us today.