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This device has been selected as the technology to be used in the fatigue trial in the Heavy Vehicle Safety Around Ports Project.
Article by Janelle Miles, The Courier-Mail (November 2, 2017)
It used to be the stuff of science fiction – workers having their brains monitored on the job. But a Brisbane businessman has made it science fact with the invention of a wearable device that analyses a person’s brain waves in real time – and he reckons it’s preventing accidents and saving lives.
Engineer Dr Daniel Bongers admits he knew next to nothing about brain waves when he spent a weekend more than a decade ago trying to come up with a solution to a deadly problem in the mining industry – driving while fatigued.
But by analysing data from electroencephalograms (EEGs) available on the internet, he developed a mathematical formula for measuring fatigue based on changes in the electrical activity of the brain.
Bongers, who has a PhD in artificial intelligence, then spent the next four years designing wearable technology that could take continuous EEG measurements and alert the user before fatigue reaches risky levels. “It will give an alarm if they get to a point of risk, but before they get there – when they’re at risk of becoming at risk – that’s when they will get an early warning alert, which is a gentle beeping,” Bongers says. “It will beep three times to let them know they’re heading towards risk, now is the best time to do something.”
After successful field trials, the device went on the market in 2011. Since then, more than 10,000 have been sold and the most up-to-date evolution is exported to 14 countries. It can be worn as a head band or as part of a hard hat, baseball cap, beanie or visor, connecting via Bluetooth to an app on a smart device or an in-vehicle display.
“What gets us up every single day is the thought that the harder we work, the better we make our product, the better we communicate what it does to people in need, the more chance we have of getting people home safe,” Bongers says.
“Way too many people die falling asleep at the wheel. We want to be part of what makes that zero.”
Bongers developed the technology while working for the Brisbane-based Co-operative Research Centre for Mining, an industry research body that has changed its name to Mining3.
The device enables companies to download individual EEG data, allowing it to be analysed as a workplace health and safety tool.
“In any country we sell the technology, somewhere between 4 and 8 per cent of the workforce is what we would refer to as high risk,” he says. “These are individuals who have an ongoing pattern of elevated fatigue and in most cases, they were entirely unaware of it.
“Health and safety systems will typically get involved and they will work with each employee to find out what’s going on. It could be poor lifestyle choices, it could be something as serious as sleep apnoea and it’s sometimes quite trivial things. For example, the clock radio beside the bed, the glow from that can impact the quality of your sleep.”
In 2009, Bongers’ design resulted in the establishment of a spin-off company, SmartCap Technologies, with offices at Milton, in Brisbane’s west, where he works as the chief technology officer.
Although most of the company’s income has been in mining, demand is increasing in the trucking industry.
The technology has also been used by crane operators, people loading and unloading shipping containers, and by marine captains piloting large vessels through coral reefs.
Within the next 12 months, the business hopes to expand to include regular drivers as customers.
Cost of the device depends on whether an organisation or individual buys the product outright, or opts for a yearly subscription.
“A subscription works out as cheaper than a cup of coffee a day,” Bongers says.
Even though the business’s primary focus is on preventing fatigue, the 39-year-old has identified other potential markets.
“We’ve shown a world-class competence in making algorithms based on EEG,” Bongers says. “That lends itself to doing things outside of the fatigue space. Wearable EEG hasn’t been something available to the world until we came along and so people are looking to us to say: ‘What else could you do?’ ”
Bongers expects all-day EEG monitoring will become more common place in medical settings, including as a warning of pending seizures for people with epilepsy.
He says it may also be used to assist anaesthetists in preventing rare cases of patients being aware during surgery and to optimise pain management, potentially allowing patients to be discharged from hospital sooner.
Applications in military and elite sports training are possibilities. “There’s a thing called readiness for action and it’s a person’s ability to respond to something happening around them,” Bongers explains.
“Readiness for action is an important measure for an elite sports person in terms of their ability to make sharp decisions. There are also military applications. The possibilities are endless.”
Labourhealth have a clear understanding of what is required to operate in Road Transport and Distribution with the required due consideration to efficiencies and safety.
Our leadership team has over 20 years of experience managing, working within, and providing services to this industry. We put legislation into perspective and then safety into practice through knowledge and experience of practice and operational requirements.
We build ongoing relationships with our customers to provide holistic safety solutions, including the following services:
We conduct over 8000 drug and alcohol screenings and over 7000 medicals per year, this is experience you can count on.
Services are available from our strategically located offices within major industrial hubs across ANZ capital cities (plus mobile services), let us know if you have requirements outside of these capitals as we are continually looking to meet customer needs nationally and rurally.
Labourhealth are extremely passionate about enhancing road transport and distribution safety at any and every opportunity therefore we offer fellow QTA Members an ongoing 15% discount for all services.
Call or email Labourhealth to discuss your needs and feel free to reach out if you are simply seeking some advice.
Telephone: 07 3305 9520 OR 0497 792 556
Email: Jim O’Connell on email@example.com
The Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) would like to advise from 1 October 2018, Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras will be used to identify heavy vehicles using the Brisbane Urban Corridor as a short cut between Rocklea and Wishart without a local destination.
The Brisbane Urban Corridor (BUC) runs from Granard Road, Rocklea to Mount Gravatt- Capalaba Road, Wishart. Heavy vehicles without a local destination along this corridor should travel along the Logan Motorway and Gateway Motorway to reach their destination.
A three month trial period is proposed until end 2018 in which warning letters will be issued while the electronic process and use of new technology is monitored and any necessary adjustments are made.
At the conclusion of the trial period, infringement notices will be issued to heavy vehicle operators who break the rules.
Local residents and businesses will benefit from reduced heavy vehicle traffic volumes along this corridor.
For more information on this work, please contact the Project Team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 3066 4338 during business hours
For up-to-date information on road closures and traffic conditions across Queensland, go to www.qldtraffic.qld.gov.au or call 13 19 40.
The Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) is investigating ways to reduce the number of mail items that are sent out as individual correspondence items and to improve customer experience. Registration certificates, currently posted by TMR at a significant cost, have been identified as an opportunity to accomplish those objectives. TMR has developed an online service to provide certificates in electronic format where customers can elect to print or email themselves a PDF copy and an online service to check registration information.
The automatic print and post of registration certificates will stop in November 2018 in favour of the documents being available from our online services. This is expected to have minimal impact on customers. While there is a perception that a customer might require a registration certificate as proof of current registration, this is not a requirement.
For more information, customers can contact the TMR call centre on 13 23 80. Please refer to the TMR Q&A document for additional information regarding this change.
2018 QTA Industry Award Winners- Media Release.pdf
It is 21 years since Queensland further developed the concept of Performance Based Standards (PBS). At the time, this was a significant development and lead to innovative changes to vehicle combinations and major improvements to road freight transport productivity.
The ICON – which is an acronym of ‘Innovative Combination of the North’ was borne out of the PBS concept. This vehicle was a long combination, purpose designed and built for the transportation of mineral concentrate and had a GCM of 166.7 tonnes, a tare weight of approximately 48 tonnes, and an overall length of 53.5m (the same as a Type 2 Road Train).
The original development work was done in 1997-1998 with the permit being granted by Queensland Transport to BHP in mid-1997. The ICON comprised a prime mover with a tri-axle drive group, towing two sets of B-triple trailers that were connected by a tri-axle converter dolly and a drawbar.
Road User Research (RUR), lead by Dr Peter Sweatman, was initially commissioned by BHP to develop and evaluate a range of innovative configurations for the Cannington haul. RUR was further commissioned by BHP to provide appropriate vehicle specifications for use in the tender process and vehicle testing (dynamics and stability).
Following on-road testing and assessment by Queensland Transport, the operation got underway in late 1997 (October-November) to haul mineral concentrate from the Cannington Mine to the Yurbi railhead.
Since the inception of the PBS concept in 1997, Australia has continued as a leading innovator in road freight transport productivity.
QTA PBPL Heavy Vehicle Safety Around Ports-Media Release 14.08.18.pdf
Recently, QTA CEO, Gary Mahon wrote an article that was a critical analysis of fatigue laws for our members that has been widely circulated and published in a number of media articles.
The purpose of this article was to reinforce how important a fresh eyed and independent review of our fatigue law is. We need to move with the times and adopt technology, science and accreditation schemes to ensure legislation is fit for purpose. After 80 years, the Roadside Administration Test has had its day.
Today I am writing about some refreshing research from the USA that has broken new ground and given us a road safety breakthrough on fatigue management in heavy vehicles.
Lack of rest areas increase fatigue risk seven-fold
Article published by Big Rigs Newspaper
Over the last 25 years researchers have developed a variety of technologies to detect and address driver fatigue. If these improvements had been included in our legislation heavy vehicle drivers would have the flexibility to structure their day in the safest way. The Industry isn’t calling for more hours but rather some discretion as to the way they are able to plan their day effectively, using available science and technology. The idea that we all cope with fatigue differently is not new, but the prescription in the HVNL allows no flexibility or variation for human factors. This is why we’re calling for a new approach. The 80 year old model badly needs an overhaul, and needs to be modernised with the new learnings research is providing.
Just last year we saw some new thinking and refreshing ideas from a ground-breaking study done in the USA, a country with similar industry operations and issues of geographical scale and distance.
In November 2017 University of Kentucky reported on a nine-year study showing that the availability of rest areas reduces the likelihood of fatigue related crashes for commercial drivers. The research into at-fault heavy vehicle crashes showed that the further a truck driver got from a rest stop, the more likely a crash was to be fatigue related. When rest options were between 32 and 64 kilometres away, the risk of being involved in a fatigue related crash more than doubled. Beyond 64 kilometres from a rest area, truck drivers were almost SEVEN TIMES more likely to have a fatigue related crash.
There was even more evidence of this when the researchers looked at the types of roads where truck drivers were at fault in fatigue related crashes. Crashes were much more likely to occur on roads with fewer places to stop a heavy vehicle. Crashes were less likely on interstates where road authorities had provided more truck stops and rest areas.
These alarming results led the researchers to recommend road authorities increase the number of rest areas for trucks on Kentucky’s interstates and high-volume roads. Workplace health and safety groups have embraced the results and will no doubt use these for future risk management and planning activities. Road authorities will also need to sit up and take notice, because US lawyers and attorneys quickly picked up the message, and the risk of litigation is real. A quick google search showed over a dozen different US law firms also reporting on the outcomes of the study, many asking drivers to contact them if they had been in a fatigue related crash.
As an industry we welcome the foresight of these US researchers to explore different aspects of fatigue in heavy vehicle drivers and the safety on our roads. It’s hard to ignore the findings from this study, that if rest areas are spaced more than 64km apart the likelihood of a fatigue related heavy vehicle crash increases seven fold. Therefore in our future fatigue legislation, we not only need science and technology to be the key driver but also a timely investment strategy in well-spaced and suitable rest areas. This will be a big step in the development of an integrated road safety system that is as safe as we can make it.
This week QTA CEO, Gary Mahon wrote an article for Big Rigs (Time for a fatigue overhaul) that is a critical analysis of fatigue laws that have lost their way in managing fatigue in our industry.
The full article follows and QTA want to reinforce, that with a review of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) looking to commence at the end of the year, it is essential that a fresh eyed and independent review process occurs. As we progress into the 21st century it is critical we have legislation that meets its purpose in place. After 80 years, we need legislation that reflects new approaches, learning from science, use of technology and fit for purpose.
The time for independent fresh thinking is now. This is our best chance to ensure our legislation has moved with the times.
Our message is Wake Up and Review Fatigue.
Gary Mahon, CEO, Queensland Trucking Association Ltd
Time for a fatigue overhaul Article published by Big Rigs Newspaper online (23 July 2018) and print
Back in November 1938 the Queensland Premier at the time The Honourable William Forgan-Smith personally introduced the State Transport Bill which among other matters included driving hours and safety provisions for heavy vehicle drivers. Hansard records him as saying that this new legislation was to “view the transport position in the light of modern development and community interests” and that “legislation should always have the power to cope with new problems”.
These newly introduced requirements included a maximum continuous driving period of five and a half hours and not to exceed 11 hours in a 24-hour period. There was also a defence for drivers if they were unavoidably delayed on their trip.
Given that the Premier was a no-nonsense kind of guy he was able to describe all these requirements on around one page of the Transport Act. Some 57 years later in 1995 the Fatigue Management Program (FMP) was introduced into Queensland Legislation by the Hon David Hamill. The FMP changes were contained to one paragraph, bringing the total amount of Fatigue legislation to about two pages.
Here we are in 2018, some 80 years since the “Modern” fatigue law about driving hours and rest breaks was introduced. Now a standard day is 12 hours and the FMP has been replaced by Basic Fatigue Management (BFM) and Advanced Fatigue Management (AFM). It takes 141 pages of legislation to describe, and is basically the same concept the 1938 Bill addressed in a little over a page.
No one in the industry would argue against the risk of fatigue needing to be managed in a way that protects our drivers and the general community to ensure safe conditions on our roads.
BUT accumulating legislation over the last 80 years at a 7000% increase in rules and regulations is not the solution.
The current system can only be described as a “Roadside Administration Test”. The fines involved can lead to a driver losing a month’s pay, even if they are not impaired by fatigue. A driver need only tick the wrong boxes, not cancelling a page properly, not sign a page on time, or make a simple spelling mistake.
The road freight industry significantly contributes to the economy and is a vital industry to all Australian people.
If the goal truly is to reduce IMPAIRMENT, we need legislation that is contemporary and responsive to science and the use of technology.
Compare this to the issue of drink driving. The concept that alcohol impaired a person’s driving ability was noted in traffic laws in the early 1900’s. However, it was the Grand Rapids study in Michigan in 1964, that finally showed that drivers who had consumed alcohol had a much higher risk of being involved in crashes. Critics of this study suggested, that the results were flawed because researchers could not identify whether or not it was the intoxicated driver who was responsible for the crash. In response, more detailed studies of at fault drivers were conducted in the 1980’s, which not only reconfirmed the relationship between blood alcohol level and crash risk, but also quantified this relationship.
This scientifically calculated risk of crash involvement according to Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level, went on to provide structure for traffic laws, offences and penalties that truly targetted impaired drivers. It also underpinned the development of testing technologies from simple blood tests, through to portable and evidentiary breath testing devices.
Over the last 50 years drink driving crashes have significantly decreased because legislators, scientists and enforcement agencies worked together to quantify and address impairment, rather than simply introducing a log book to record how many drinks a driver had. The use of science and applied thinking brought about a great road safety result and a genuine shift in driving culture.
What we have today with fatigue risk management and heavy vehicles, is the same thinking that was introduced 80 years ago, only now it is so complex it keeps drivers awake worrying if they will pass the next “Roadside Administration Test”.
We need an integrated solution that draws on the best science, the use of technology, contemporary legislation, and the provision of infrastructure. It is imperative that the government provides an appropriate number of rest areas on all major networks. If it is good enough to mandate a percentage of the road infrastructure spend to public art it is good enough to apply a percentage to new rest areas.
Eighty years ago, driving hour restrictions and rest requirements were introduced as the “Modern” solution. We need our lawmakers to set a NEW vision for managing the risk of fatigue that is consistent and has practical application across urban, provincial and remote areas of this country.
There is an Albert Einstein quote that “If you cannot explain something simply you don’t really understand it”.
Our forbears introduced a “Modern” innovation 80 years ago and explained it simply. We are well overdue for disruption to this legislation and bring in a new approach that manages fatigue impairment.
This has been talked to a standstill for too long. 80 years is enough. We are in the 21st century.
80-year Fatigue Management Report Card
"The Toowoomba workshop yesterday was very well received by all attendees, I know my table who consisted of all long term transport industry owners / managers really appreciated the way Karen delivered the topic at a level that we all could understand and then easily relate it to our daily processes. This certainly removed a lot of the unknown and fear of the new COR requirements. Thank you QTA, for your efforts, I will certainly be passing this workshop information on all that can benefit from it."
Just a quick note to congratulate you all on a great workshop presentation in Warwick last night, well done. Karen , I think the turning point for the crowd was when you spoke about ‘’changing the steer tyre in the desert "
"Thanks Legends.....Greatly Appreciated !!....Cheers....."
"We were so pleased we attended. It was extremely well presented and helped us enormously. Karen Bow did a brilliant job of presenting the facts. In our case it gave us re-assurance that we were on the right path. She also made herself available to speak one on one to all who required some individual case info. Lisa Acret was also good to speak to and I found her extremely helpful. As a result we would like to become a member of QTA."