Heavy vehicle driver fatigue: Evidence-based policy making

Marcus Burke, James Williams, Nick Fischer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleOther


This article introduces a new National Transport Commission project, undertaken in collaboration with the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator, to develop a national framework to collect and analyse fatigue data by the end of 2016. Historic challenges associated with reforms of the national heavy vehicle fatigue regulations are highlighted; and in particular the need for an improved evidence-base before further amendments of fatigue laws are considered. For example, agencies today are collecting enforcement and crash investigation data using different processes and formats. This limits opportunities to collate and compare meaningful fatigue data and an initial step would be to standardise fatigue reporting. From this foundation, a number of improvements can be made. For example, one improvement could involve recording in a standardised format when a driver in a fatigue-related crash is accredited in a government scheme that permits more than "standard" hours of work.

The NTC has developed a list of priority fatigue issues, as well as data collection and research options. The framework aims to improve roadside enforcement data collection, improve and standardise crash investigation reporting and crash codes, and to undertake scientific research in partnership with the Alertness CRC.

Drawing on fatigue expert advice, Alertness CRC research activities and submissions to the NTC discussion paper (published for consultation on 21 August 2015), an explanation is given on how the framework can measure and improve the understanding of fatigue impairment in a number of areas, including:
- frequency and impact of higher-risk driving schedules.
- sleep quality and quantity of sleep in rest breaks.
- impact of night driving and;
- health and well-being of heavy vehicle drivers.

An appraisal of some risks and challenges associated with data collection and fatigue research is included.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-41
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of the Australasian College of Road Safety
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2016
Externally publishedYes

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