Successful testing of roadside fatigue test: Will fatigue testing be the new breath test?

By: Cobey Bartels

Ground-breaking research out of Victoria has led to the development of a roadside fatigue test.

Successful testing of roadside fatigue test: Will fatigue testing be the new breath test?
Lead researcher, Associate Professor Mark Howard.

A team of researchers based out of the Austin Health and Institute for Breathing and Sleep, have successfully tested the ‘smart glasses’ used to track eye movements.

The test looks at the duration of blinks and how eyes scan the road, providing an accurate measure of fatigue.

Lead researcher, Associate Professor Mark Howard, says they are now working on translating technology calibrated for each driver to a one-size-fits-all-test that police could use to scientifically determine in a roadside test if someone is too tired to drive.

"With drug and alcohol testing, you're trying to change driver behaviour," Professor Howard said. 

"You don't need to detect everyone - just the tip of the iceberg people who are very impaired.

"Education, with measurement and enforcement, creates the behaviour change.

"We are really at the start of the journey for drowsy driving - people still see it as a badge of honour to drive while tired".

When it comes to enforcement, it isn’t yet known how police will administer or use the results or how it could affect the heavy vehicle industry.

In a statement, Victoria Police said, "Victoria Police have been approached to be involved and will watch with interest a body of work being undertaken researching a roadside test for fatigue."

"Police will always consider discussions around road safety initiatives which look to keep our community safe on the roads," the statement outlined.

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