Tuesday riskiest days on NZ roads, report finds

In News5 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineNovember 24, 2023

AI-powered tech company Seeing Machines has released its inaugural Guardian Insights Report, which revealed Tuesdays are the riskiest days on New Zealand roads, while November had the highest number of driver fatigue-related events over a 12-month period.

The findings were derived from de-identified data on 25,202 vehicles across 2,585 fleets in Australia and New Zealand for the period to September 30, 2023.

Using Guardian technology to monitor driver fatigue and distraction, the report captured 653,048 risky driving events from fleets on both sides of the Tasman. This included 131,806 fatigue events and more than 520,000 distracted driving events, with at least 10 percent (55,260) attributed to mobile phone use.

The report confirms this is equivalent to almost 60 driver distraction events per hour.

Autosense (the New Zealand distributor of Guardian by Seeing Machines) chief executive Charles Dawson said the report is designed for road users to understand driver and fleet behaviour better.

“This is the first time Guardian has leveraged its driving data to pinpoint and address the trends surrounding risky driving habits.

“This data has been processed through the company’s Guardian Live platform and verified by human analysts in the Guardian Centre, enabling the technology to unpack the realities of driving heavy vehicles on our roads,” he said.

“We’re seeing that our New Zealand-specific data directly correlates to this report. Our local data points to more than 159,000 instances of high-risk driving recorded in New Zealand fleet vehicles, including nearly 31,000 events involving drivers using their mobile phones.”

The report found Tuesdays to be  the riskiest days on New Zealand roads, and November is the highest-risk month for Australian and Kiwi drivers to share the road with fleet vehicles.

“Microsleeps, where a driver appears to be in a state of sleep, is a genuine concern for us all, with more than 68 events a day recorded in New Zealand, and November shows the worst month for fatigue events,” said Dawson.

“Early mornings between 5am and 7am are also the worst time for fatigue.”

Dawson says he is not surprised by the numbers.

“While this is the first time we have released this data, we’ve seen these trends increase over the past five years and align with what we see across the Tasman,” he said.

“What is positive is that utilising the Guardian technology means we can identify issues with drivers and provide education and training to mitigate these risks.

“As a company, we are committed to making roads safer for all road users, and by shedding light on the insights and performance data that influence driver behaviour.”

Dawson said while November is typically one of the busiest months for transport operators, other factors contribute to the eleventh month being singled out.

“Fatigue in vehicles and the workplace is mostly about not getting enough sleep before starting work. Stress, heat and light also make it more difficult to get a good night’s sleep, and November typically has high daylight hours,” he said.

“In the transport industry, Tuesday is the busiest day of the week, so it’s no surprise that it is also the riskiest. We encourage all drivers to learn about fatigue, sleep and wellness. Businesses have a vital role in educating their drivers about the causes of fatigue and how they can prepare better for a busy day on the road.”

Dawson said the Guardian by Seeing Machines system is installed in almost 5000 fleet vehicles in New Zealand and is designed to vibrate and ‘shake awake’ drivers when a microsleep event is detected. The technology is proven to reduce fatigue-related events by up to 90%.

For drivers without access to the technology, Dawson suggests companies try to educate their drivers to be aware of the signs of fatigue and then, like all drivers who are feeling fatigued, find somewhere safe to stop for a quick nap.

“NASA discovered that a 26-minute nap provides up to three hours of improved consciousness. It can save lives.”