The revolutionary eye wear, which can detect the onset of fatigue, is now available across the country through the AllRig by PACCAR parts and accessory retailer. These driving glasses cost $4000, so you wouldn't want to sit on them or leave them somewhere, but that is a minor cost compared to the impact a fatigue related crash could have on a driver, their family and other road users.
The Optalert glasses are the result of decades of research by Australian sleep expert Dr Murray Johns, who has come up with a complex system using sensors to monitor the eye movements of the driver to determine whether they are beginning to tire. The glasses appear normal, but are hooked up to a small processor located in the cabin. It shows how tired the driver is.
AllRig general manager, Ross Hudson, says the Optalert glasses are so impressive because they can detect fatigue before a driver realises they are tired. "The technology, how it detects the movement of your eyes and distinguishes that from regular eye movement, is just amazing", he says.
Sceptics of such technology will inevitably ask: wouldn't driver know when they are tired? Mr Hudson said they would, but not soon enough. By the time you realise you are drowsy, it is too late, he says.
"Your performance is affected well before you get any idea that you are tired. The Optalert driving glasses alert the driver with a visual and audible warning with an easy-to-read drowsiness indicator."
"It is then up to the driver to take note of the warning. It isn't connected to the truck's ECU or anything like that, it won't shut the truck down when it detects the driver is tired", Hudson says.
It is up to the driver to heed the warnings. Several fleets, including BHP Billton and Toll have already ordered the glasses and AllRig is now receiving more enquiries from small operators now that it has been added to its range.
"We've had quite few calls from the wives of truck drivers who want their husbands to come home safe", Hudson says. Optalert CEO, John Prendergast, says owner drivers are particularly interested in the special driving glasses.
"We find that owner drivers in particular have an acute awareness of fatigue issues and of course value their own safety. They want to keep repair costs low and keep the truck on the road earning money", Hudson says. Many owner operators have found the Optalert system to be a very affordable insurance policy on their personal safety.