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Driver fatigue to be tested in Victorian trial

Technology that tracks eye movements of drivers to try and detect fatigue is set to be trialled by the Victorian Government.

The tests will measure involuntary movements of the pupils, which is thought to be an indicator of fatigue.

People who participate in the trial will be kept awake for 32 hours before going for a two-hour drive. A special camera in the car will monitor their eyes.

The drive will be done in controlled conditions with a driving supervisor who can also control the vehicle.

VicRoads will lead the project and work with the TAC and Victoria Police, as well as Monash University and sleep and alertness research group Alertness CRC.

Monash University and Alertness CRC have already conducted small tests of technology that tracks fatigue.

In 2018, 20 hospital shift workers had their eye movements measured by cameras installed behind car steering wheels.

It's hoped that the trial will help the government develop a testing technique to pick up fatigued drivers, similar to blood alcohol and drug testing for drink drivers.

$850,000 is being spent on the project. At this stage it is unknown if it also aims to set a parameter or benchmark for when someone is or isn't fatigued.

Stopping fatigue before it's too late

While this project is looking for a testing technique that could be carried out by police, it may also help to further develop automated vehicle technology that can detect fatigue and take action.

Similar technology exists and is being used by Caterpillar in off-road earth moving vehicles.

Some Caterpillar vehicles are fitted with in-cab cameras developed by Australian company Seeing Machines that watch the driver's eyes and detect micro sleeps.

When a micro sleep is detected, the driver's seat shakes. A message is also sent to Caterpillar's control centre saying that a driver may be fatigued.

Fatigued driving causes up to 20 per cent of Victorian road crashes and has been an important issue for Bicycle Network for many years.

In the early 2000s we campaigned for fatigued driving to be recognised as being as dangerous as drink driving. When fatigue is a factor in a serious crash it can now lead to culpable driving charges.

As well as supportive legislation for bike riders, we support and encourage the development of automated technology that can override driver error and stop a crash from happening.

Click here to read more about automated vehicle technology and bicycles.

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