Victoria to start fatigue test trial to keep drowsy drivers off roads

The State Government of Victoria in Australia is set to start testing technology that will detect fatigued drivers to improve road safety and avoid accidents.

Minister for Roads and Minister for Road Safety and the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) Jaala Pulford announced that trials will be conducted at a controlled test facility in Kilsyth.

To participate in the fatigue test, drivers will have to remain awake for up to 32 hours, then they will be allowed to join a two-hour drive on a controlled track. The test will be supervised by a qualified instructor in a dual-control vehicle.

Before and after the trial, drivers’ pupils will be tested to measure involuntary movement, which is said to be strongly linked with increasing levels of fatigue.

According to existing data, fatigued drivers were involved in up to 20% of crashes on Victorian roads.

Part of an A$850,000 ($602,667) investment, the project will assess whether roadside testing for extreme fatigue can be carried out in a similar way to current roadside alcohol and drug testing.

Pulford said: “Ambitious trials like this one are targeting issues like fatigue, which play a big part in lives lost and serious injuries on Victorian roads.

“When you consider that fatigue has the same effect on driving ability as alcohol, this trial has the potential to combat one of the biggest killers on our roads.

“Victoria truly leads the nation in road safety initiatives, and our Towards Zero Road Safety Strategy Plan is key to reducing lives lost and serious injuries on our roads.”

The study is being led by VicRoads in close cooperation with Monash University, the TAC, Victoria Police and the Alertness CRC.

The project is funded through the A$1.4bn ($992.63m) Towards Zero Action Plan, carried out by VicRoads and funded by the Transport Accident Commission.