U.S. regulators propose split-sleeper pilot study

U.S. regulators are hoping to explore more split sleeper berth options within Hours of Service rules, in a pilot program that would allow truck drivers to split 10-hour rest periods into 6/4 and 5/5 splits.

The rules established in 2013 required truck drivers to take at least eight consecutive hours in the sleeper berth, and the remaining two consecutive hours in the sleeper, off duty, or a combination of two.

(Photo: Mack Trucks)

Rules were revised last year to allow a shorter period of up to seven hours in the sleeper, leaving the remaining period of up to three hours. But the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) said it wasn’t comfortable with larger splits because of a lack of data.

“This proposed pilot program will provide needed data and feedback for the agency to use now and in the future,” FMCSA Deputy Administrator Wiley Deck said in a press release.

Under the proposed pilot program, drivers would still need to rest at least 10 hours within the combined two periods, and neither period could be shorter than four hours. But drivers would also be allowed to choose not to apply the exemption based on their schedule.

The program would last a maximum of three years. While the number of participants is not yet defined, FMCSA says it would need to be a “reasonable number” needed to yield statistically valid findings.

Data would be collected over a proposed 90-day period before participating drivers received a temporary exemption from today’s requirements.

Those looking to participate in the research will first need to be accepted by the U.S. FMCSA.

Existing rules have been criticized by various trucking organizations. Teamsters, for example, have said the majority of their driver members would prefer more flexibility in the name of “restorative” rest periods.

This proposed pilot program is based in part on a proposal submitted in December 2013 by the American Trucking Associations and Minnesota Trucking Association, the agency says.

The project is still subject to a 60-day comment period. Details are here.

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