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FMCSA Proposes Split Sleeper Berth Pilot Program

Hoping to develop “statistically reliable evidence” on whether split-sleeper-berth time affects driver safety performance and fatigue, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is proposing a pilot program that would give a limited number of CDL holders temporary relief from the existing sleeper-berth regulation of the hours of service rule, reports Heavy Duty Trucking:

During the pilot program, participating truckers who regularly use a sleeper berth to accumulate their required 10 hours of non-duty work status would have the option to split their sleeper berth time within parameters specified by FMCSA. The agency said that driver metrics would be collected for the duration of the study and that participants’ safety performance and fatigue levels would be analyzed.

FMCSA pointed out that currently any interstate driver who operates a property-carrying vehicle equipped with a sleeper berth and who uses the sleeper berth provision must take at least eight consecutive hours in the sleeper berth, plus a separate two consecutive hours either in the sleeper berth, off duty, or any combination of the two, before returning to on-duty status.

By contrast, the pilot program would give participating drivers a temporary exemption from this requirement for consolidated sleeper berth time. The agency said that for study purposes, drivers would be allowed to split their sleep into no more than two sleeper berth segments.

“Current regulations allow drivers to use one 10-hour period, or splits of nine and one hours or eight and two hours,” said FMCSA. “Drivers operating under the exemption for this study would be allowed to use any combination of split sleeper periods, totaling 10 hours, with neither period being less than three hours, allowing for the driver to use splits of three and seven hours, four and six hours, or two five-hour periods. Following study enrollment, drivers would be able to use split or consolidated sleep schedules as they choose (within study parameters), but they must still meet the daily minimum rest requirements.”

FMCSA will be seeking public comment on the pilot proposal, including but not limited to these and other questions:

  • Are any additional safeguards needed to ensure that the pilot program provides a level of safety equivalent to that without the consolidated sleeper berth time exemption?
  • Are the data collection efforts proposed for carriers and drivers so burdensome as to discourage participation?
  • How should data collection efforts differ for team drivers?

The complete proposal can be accessed here.

Comments may be submitted online under Docket No. FMCSA-2016-0260 by clicking here.

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