On Wednesday 15 November, the Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, the Hon Darren Chester MP, inspected AutoMonitor – a home-grown technology that heralds a new dawn for heavy vehicle safety, potentially saving the lives of Australian truck drivers.
As featured on Channel 7 News, the technology was initially developed by AutoTest Products with the US Military and is currently being trialled by MacGregor Logistics. Minister Chester got in the driver’s seat to experience for himself the warning signs a truck driver will receive seconds before a rollover through the technology’s flashing light and loud alarm.
He was also able to see what information was transmitted to Fleet Managers- the time, speed, location, truck near rollovers and on-road performance of brakes and suspension.
Managing Director of AutoTest Products, David Jenkins said, “Our vision is to improve how heavy vehicles move around the country, boost the user experience for fleet owners, and inform drivers in real-time so they can make better decisions.”
In support of the technology is MacGregor Logistics’ Managing Director, Chris MacGregor, who claims that “anything that helps to reduce the risk is very welcome”. Fourth generation truck driver, George Frederiksen, knows how dangerous it is on the roads having narrowly escaped serious injury when he experienced a rollover in 2010 on poor roads in far North Queensland, telling Channel 7 News that “a device like this could have assisted”.
Shot shock absorbers, worn tyres and dodgy brakes are three examples of poor safety conditions that place both the driver and other motorists at risk. AutoMonitor offers an efficient, easy-to-use and centralised way of collecting, viewing and utilising information through a single source. While it’s often called the ‘black box’ of trucks and buses, in reality this technology does a lot more than store critical safety information; it provides warnings to prevent rollovers in the first place.
Truck safety is an issue felt right across the country. In May 2017, New South Wales Police launched a safety blitz in Sydney, uncovering 33 truck and trailer defects and issuing 22 infringements in just 2 days. In South Australia, the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure introduced a Heavy Vehicle Inspection Scheme that requires heavy vehicles weighing over 4.5 tonnes and at least 3 years of age to be inspected and pass roadworthy prior to an ownership change.
In 2015, 211 people (4 a week) were killed from crashes involving heavy vehicles1, and each year approximately 1,600 people (31 a week) are hospitalised from heavy vehicles incidents.2
The latest bus rollover in Victoria’s West on the Sunraysia Highway 10km northwest of Avoca on Saturday 14 October was a sobering reminder of its fatal consequences, with one dead and dozens injured. But it’s not just passengers who are adversely affected by heavy vehicle accidents.
Said Mr. Jenkins “The size of articulated trucks and the difficulty of their removal can also create major financial losses for truck owners and the wider community in lost time for tens of thousands of motorists and other commercial operations who happen to be on the road or rely on transported supplies.”
The Hon Darren Chester MP gets in the driver’s seat to see how AutoMonitor works, at MacGregor Logistics.
Mr. Jenkins is no stranger to vehicle dynamics, having helped design Australia’s first brake meter and subsequently assisted in writing New South Wales’ regulations relating to it. Not only that, Mr. Jenkins possesses a strong affiliation with CITA, the International Motor Vehicle Inspection Committee, with a focus on emissions and braking. Furthermore, he has developed a Gas Analyser and is involved in compliance testing for the British Government with regard to roadworthy rules for the UK.
Click here to read more about AutoMonitor.
1 VicRoads Understanding Truck Roll Overs
2 Australian Government Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development 2015 Injuries from Truck Crashes Road, Trauma Involving Heavy Vehicles—Annual Summaries 2