Politician suggests giving tired drivers a shock

The NSW Roads Minister has been met with backlash after suggesting sleepy drivers should be electrocuted.
The NSW Roads Minister has been met with backlash after suggesting sleepy drivers should be electrocuted. Photo credit: Getty

An Australian politician has come under fire for suggesting that drivers receive electric shocks if they take their eyes off the road.

New South Wales saw a 45 percent increase in fatalities from heavy truck crashes from 2016 to 2017. In the past week alone, three truck drivers were killed as well as two car drivers.

Melinda Pavey, Roads Minister for New South Wales, told ABC radio on Wednesday (local time) that action must be taken to lower the number of accidents caused by drowsy drivers.

"The technology now is so advanced, a driver can be driving and get an electric shock if they look away from the windscreen for more than two seconds," she said.

Several devices which claim to stop drivers falling asleep at the wheel are readily available, reports news.com.au. One such invention is a bracelet that gives the wearer a "gentle electric shock" if their heart beat falls below a certain level.

Ms Pavey's comment was met with criticism from Richard Olsen, NSW State Secretary of the Transport Workers Union.

In a statement, Mr Olsen called Ms Pavey's suggestion "heartless, arrogant and completely incompetent".

He said the proposal to electrocute people in their vehicles was "deeply offensive to the families of those killed".

Mr Olsen also said most accidents involving trucks were due to "extreme and unfair working conditions", which Ms Pavey and her colleagues have failed to acknowledge.

In response to the backlash, Ms Pavey said she had been quoted out of context - but remained adamant that technology should be used to prevent drivers falling asleep at the wheel.

"If we can't have a decent honest conversation about the technology available, we have some issues," she told news.com.au. 

"It's not the time to put our heads in the sand."

Newshub.