SLEEP STUDY: Taxi Council of Queensland president Max McBride said the study would determine fatigue issues in the industry.
SLEEP STUDY: Taxi Council of Queensland president Max McBride said the study would determine fatigue issues in the industry. Nick Wright

The plan to help tired taxi drivers

HAVING worked in the taxi industry for more than three decades, Max McBride has witnessed how fatigue can affect drivers in the industry.

While yet to fall victim to issues at the wheel, the Mackay driver and Taxi Council of Queensland president is no stranger to the irregular schedule shift work creates - particularly in a 24/7 industry.

In a bid to break down fatigue issues in taxi services, a study between Griffith University's School of Applied Psychology and the TCQ has sought to track sleep and fatigue patterns in taxi drivers.

The study aims to explore how taxi operators manage fatigue and what can be done by drivers and companies to help manage it better.

Mr McBride said drivers typically worked in 10-12-hour shifts, but this would often change depending on demand.

He said the independent nature of the work meant drivers would often operate inconsistently.

"We have had drivers that have suffered from things like sleep apnoea and ... they've had to have treatment. One case in particular the driver had to be assessed and he was prevented from driving taxis because he couldn't stick to the conditions he was issued," MrMcBride said.

"With drivers doing shift work we need to be mindful of the effects that it can have on people working in those conditions.

"Their own personal circumstances come into it but ... the operator has to be able to generate a profit out of it."

Drivers participating in the study will wear a Fitbit for a month and share their profile data with researchers weekly. Ultimately the goal is to improve safety for everyone using a Queensland taxi service.

TCQ expects recommendations from the study will inform a State Government review into regulatory reforms in Queensland's personalised transport industry introduced in 2016-17.

TCQ CEO Blair Davies said many booked hire drivers did not regard driving as their sole source of income and could be significantly impacted by fatigue from the added workload.

Mr McBride said he hoped the study would zero in on what conditions instigated driver fatigue and distinguish how the industry demands varied depending on the workload, location and behavioural factors in individual drivers.

"Fatigue management in the taxi industry ... (and) industries which involve shift work has been an ongoing area of interest to us," he said.

"Adopting strategies to reduce fatigue means our drivers are safer, our customers are safer, we have less accidents and less injuries to our customers and drivers.

"This zeroes in on fatigue, so we're looking much more closely at the role it plays. We're delving much deeper into the behavioural issues of drivers and the factors there that contribute to fatigue."