The CEO of Australian technology company Optalert has revealed recent data pointed to a shocking 30 percent of professional drivers at risk of falling asleep each time they get behind the wheel.
Optalert CEO Scott Coles has implored Australian goods and passenger transport companies to wake up to the risk or face yet another needless road accident caused by drowsy driving.
“A transport company approached us earlier in the year because they had drivers operating at all times of the day and they were particularly concerned about their people driving through the night,” Mr Coles said.
“Unfortunately we confirmed their worst fears when we diagnosed up to 30 percent of their drivers were at risk of drowsy incidents every shift they worked.”
“Drowsiness is the dangerous state right before sleep onset, where your body is actually fighting to stay awake. Being at this stage behind the wheel, where your concentration and reaction times are severely impacted, can have deadly consequences.
“While not all drowsy drivers will have an accident on their journey, they are at a much higher risk of a micro sleep which can have serious consequences. This happens because our bodies are not designed to be awake for long periods of time and or during the early hours of the morning.
Mr Coles said companies need to allow employees took adequate rest between shifts because otherwise drowsiness would eventually catch up with them.
“I was frustrated when I read recent news reports about a family who had lost two children in a road fatality that may have been the result of a drowsy truck driver,” Mr Coles said.
“We are not living in the 1900’s; these deaths are entirely preventable. Australia has for many years been leading the way in tackling driver drowsiness and all trucking, bus and train companies in this country have access to our cutting-edge technology.”
Mr Coles said many Australian transport companies were at particular risk because of the length of their journeys undertaken, the remoteness of operations and the often boring stretches of road they have to traverse.
“These factors place their operators at particular risk and no matter how experienced you are as a driver; you cannot tell when you are getting drowsy without the aid of technology.”
Optalert’s technology concentrates on the driver, not just their behavior, and importantly it can detect when a person is more at risk of becoming a drowsy driver, rather than wake a person who has fallen asleep.
“While we have the only technology in the market able to measure drowsiness with any objective accuracy, we determined there was a gap in the market for companies who were operating in at-risk industries, but needed some solid data to determine the size and nature of their risk.
“Our new product, the eagle DIAGNOSTIC objectively measures a company’s fatigue (drowsiness) risk exposure in three specific areas; at-risk locations, at-risk drivers and at-risk times of the day and assists them to quickly determine steps they need to take to remedy their risk.
“It’s not good enough for companies to work from a purely compliance-based model. They need to invest in their people and their work practices to ensure they remain safe with or without fatigue-based legislation.
“It has been pleasing to see Australia’s governing body, the National Transport Commission (NTC) is taking a good look at the impact of fatigue (drowsiness) on the heavy vehicle industry, and how it can be better managed, but there is always a lag for new legislation.
“Everyone who goes to work deserves to come home safely and if their workplace includes public roads and or if they carry passengers, they must be safe for the sake of their passengers, other road users as well as themselves.
“I do not want to read about another poor family who has lost loved ones to a senseless and preventable road accident.”
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Optalert is an Australian technology company with a head office in Melbourne. They were founded by world-renowned sleep clinician Dr Murray Johns and have been operating commercially since 2006 with products installed in mine sites and transportation companies across the globe.
Optalert’s drowsiness-detection technology is based on two key measurements which track the amplitude velocity ratio of blinks; essentially measuring how fast and how far a person opens their eyelid after they close it. These continuous measurements are then translated into a score between zero and 10 on their patented Johns Drowsiness Scale (JDS), named after Founding Director Dr Murray Johns who also created the Epworth Sleepiness Scale.
When a driver is reaching a point where they could become drowsy, they are alerted with visual and audible alarms to make sure they stop driving before they enter a micro sleep.
Optalert’s eagle DIAGNOSTIC product provides qualitative and quantitative data to determine productivity and risk to employees using objective data and analysis. It uses Optalert’s scientifically-proven technology combined with GPS, data modelling and individual driver analysis.