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Driver Fatigue – using technology to mitigate the risks

The link between fatigue and an elevated risk of accidents is a long-established one. But with no definitive test for measuring how excessive tiredness is affecting driver behaviour, identifying fatigue as a key factor behind road accidents is problematic.

The development of in-car tech provides one of the newest ways to manage the fatigue risk. In-vehicle technology known as DDDR – driver distraction and drowsiness recognition – can detect signs of fatigue, for example by monitoring eye movement and ‘nodding head’, and alert the driver if it detects signs of fatigue. Other systems monitor heart rate or steering and braking activity. As ever, the effectiveness of such technology depends on how it’s used.

“If the driver isn’t alerted that they are showing signs of fatigue and they think ‘I’ll just carry on driving then (without taking a break)’, that negates the benefits,” says Neil Greig. “But if used properly, it’s a useful option”.

Karen McDonnell agrees, cautioning that it’s early days but “the technology will advance”.

One issue technology can’t resolve is the tension between job demands – needing to get somewhere by a certain time, for example, or needing to make just one more delivery – and the extra time needed to take rest breaks. Tony Greenidge stresses that there should be “no comeback on the individual if they take a break because they are alerted to signs of fatigue.”

Credit to IOSH

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