Federal laws require commercial carriers to monitor the number of hours their truckers drive to ensure they are getting the required amount of rest. Companies take a variety of routes to log hours driven; but new technologies are emerging that can look for symptoms of fatigue in real-time.
Technologies can be used inside the truck to help monitor and alert drivers if they are showing signs of sleepiness. Tired drivers are often not aware of their condition – at times they can drive for up to 30 seconds with their eyes closed (called micro-sleeps), which can lead to fatal big rig crashes on the road.
These on-board devices are designed to make objective measures of certain behaviors that can be associated with fatigue, and can alert the driver if necessary:
- In-dash cameras or eyeglasses – These devices have sensors that can monitor eye movement and blink speeds, which can both be signs of drowsiness. The systems attached to the cab can have problems related to the motion of the truck, which makes the glasses a more reliable choice.
- Steering wheel and truck movement monitors – These monitors are calibrated for “normal” and consistent movements, typical of drivers who are alert. They can then detect behaviors of drowsy drivers, who create erratic movements with sudden swerves and swaying.
Most of these technologies are still in their development phases, and prices are not at a point where all companies can be expected to provide them as a matter of routine. But owners might consider them for certain vehicles on certain routes that have, in the past, created problems.