icon Roadside Assistance

Fatigued Driving

Fatigued Driving

The priority research topic for the inaugural cycle of the AAA Road Safety Research Program is fatigued driving. Fatigue is a major cause of road crashes, related injuries and fatalities worldwide.

It is believed that 20 to 30 per cent of all car crashes in Australia are attributable to fatigue. Research indicates that the need for drivers and transport managers to understand and tackle fatigued driving is greater than ever. 

Fatigue is a more complex concept than just being ‘sleepy’. While the effects of sleep (or lack of it) are a key component, fatigue is a broader phenomenon. It can be influenced by a person’s rest and sleep habits and cycles, their physiological and psychological traits, as well as their environmental conditions. 

Fatigue can reduce attentiveness, slow a driver’s reaction times and affect judgement – all of which can result in catastrophic consequences. In fact, research has shown after 17-19 hours without sleep, driver performance is equivalent to or worse than having a blood alcohol concentration level of 0.05 per cent. If a driver falls asleep for just four seconds while travelling at 100 km/h, the car will have travelled 111 metres without their control. 

Fatigued driving is a major challenge for road safety. Fatigue can affect all types and levels of drivers and fatigue-related crashes can happen on any trip – no matter how long or short the trip is or what time of day it is. The AAA Road Safety Research Program will use quality, applied research activities to better understand fatigued driving and develop effective ways to address this problem. 


The AAA is excited to announce three important new research projects into fatigued driving. These were developed following extensive consultation with key stakeholders in the fields of fatigued driving/road safety and utilising the outcomes of the Fatigued Driving Stakeholder Forum held in Sydney in November 2019. 

Project: Fatigued Driving Research Literature Review 

To support the AAA Road Safety Research Program’s research into fatigued driving, the AAA commissioned a foundational piece of work to scope the fatigued driving literature and policy landscape/s.  The literature review, which included a thematic review of the international literature, has produced a professional and thorough final report that details what is known about the extent of fatigued driving, what legal and policy frameworks are effective, what factors contribute to fatigued driving, what countermeasures are effective in preventing fatigued driving (and why), and how fatigued driving can best be prevented.   The review also includes a summary of key researchers and research organisations in Australia and comparable overseas countries are working in the area of fatigued driving.

The AAA was very pleased to award this work to The Appleton Institute – Central Queensland University. The research was led by Professor Sally Ferguson and Associate Professor Matthew Thomas who both have extensive experience in fatigued driving.

Project: Evaluation, validation and comparison of fatigued driving monitoring technologies 

This exciting research project is a result of the workshop held as part of the Fatigued Driving Stakeholder Forum held in Sydney in November 2019. 

The project will assess, validate, evaluate, and compare the effectiveness of fatigue-monitoring technologies, the warning/alert systems and the driver’s understanding of and response to the associated warnings or alerts. The assessments will include a comparison across the various categories of fatigued driving technologies to consider the feasibility of the various systems for different fleet and business sizes. The goal is to provide potential consumers with clear and independent information about different fatigued driving monitoring technologies to enable informed choices. 

This project has completed a feasibility phase and the major project will be undertaken by a consortium consisting of: 

  • Monash University – led by Associate Professor Clare Anderson 
  • The Appleton Institute (Central Queensland University) led by Professor Sally Ferguson 

The major project is due to get underway in the first part of 2021. 

Project: Understanding and managing fatigue in the workplace 

This project was submitted in response to the call for research ideas on the AAA Road Safety Research Program’s website. The project will create an evidence base (including a study of drivers in a simulator and virtual reality environments, monitoring of diet, exercise, and sleep/wake patterns, telematic fleet data and surveys of employees) with the aim to develop a workplace behaviour modification plan for both workers and management. 

This project has now completed its feasibility study. The AAA is pleased to announce the following partnership to undertake this major research project: 

  • The Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC) led by Associate Professor Sharon Newnam 
  • The National Road Safety Partnership Program (NRSPP) led by Mr Jerome Carslake 
  • Tip Top Bakeries (as a part of George Western Foods) led by Mr Kurt Clark 

The major project is due to get underway in the first part of 2021.