GPS for fatigue is "dangerously misguided"

Fatigue monitoring company claims using GPS to track a driver's fatigue is "dangerously misguided"

By Brad Gardner | October 5, 2010

A fatigue monitoring company claims using GPS technology to track driver fatigue is "dangerously misguided" because it does not work.

Optalert, which markets glasses capable of monitoring driver fatigue, says GPS is useful for fleet management and freight deliveries but will not prevent fatigue-related incidents.

CEO John Prendergast says GPS devices cannot factor in external influences that might affect a driver before he starts work, such as a lack of sleep or personal issues.

"We’ve seen drivers close to a fatigue related accident after only 30 minutes on the road," he says.

"The only way to accurately measure the alertness of a driver during his journey is to monitor him in real time. This cannot be done through GPS, which uses pre-determined calculations to guess fatigue levels."

Toll, Linfox and Asciano last month called for GPS tracking to be mandated for linehaul drivers to monitor speed and fatigue.

They agree compulsory tracking will improve compliance because the major causes of truck accidents are speed and fatigue related.

Under the proposed scheme, the GPS devices will be capable of emailing messages to notify the vehicle owner of a breach, warn drivers when they are speeding and count driving hours to inform drivers when they are reaching a limit.

The proposal has gained the backing of the Australian Logistics Council (ALC), which wants the scheme phased in to give trucking operators time to fit the technology.

Navman Wireless says governments should introduce tax breaks for companies that switch to electronic reporting in favour of existing paper-based methods.

The Transport Workers Union (TWU) believes clients should be forced to pay owner-drivers to install the technology if it is made compulsory.
The union has also questioned why short-haul operators should be excluded.

"There are many accidents that happen on local work. The pressures there are the same and that needs to be acknowledged," TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon says.

The National Transport Commission is currently looking at the development of a national telematics strategy to encourage more operators to use monitoring devices.

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