A Hawke’s Bay transport operator believes a phone app fatigue test for linehaul drivers could be a sea-change for the industry.
Todd Stephenson of Stephenson Transport is one of three firms trialling the alternative fatigue management system with support from New Zealand Land Transport, Transporting NZ, the police and WorkSafe.
To assess their level of fatigue during a working day, drivers use an “alert meter” test on a phone app. They complete the test at the start of the day and when they take 10 minute breaks no more than four hours apart.
The one-minute test, developed in the United States, resembles a video game and tests alertness and reaction time.
The app is linked to the driver’s electronic logbook.
Developing the process has had input from fatigue management experts who say short and variable-length rest breaks are more beneficial than the current mandatory 30 minute break after five and a half hours behind the wheel.
Stephenson said it took drivers time to adjust to the change, but the greater flexibility means they stop at appropriate places where they can check loads and their vehicles and complete the test.
If a driver requires an extension to their permitted driving hours due to an unexpected delay, their manager has information from the test showing their level of fatigue.
Stephenson said after some initial driver resistance, it is working well and he believes it will benefit the heavy transport sector.
“This could be an absolute sea-change in terms of logbooks and working hours.”
The system will be trialled for another 12 months before a decision is made whether to roll it out nationally.