FMCSA announces split sleeper berth pilot program
FMCSA Announces a Split Sleeper Berth Pilot Program

On June 6, 2017, FMCSA announced the proposal of a split sleeper berth study pilot program. The program has been under contemplation since November 2015. The pilot program aims to analyze and compare driver behavior and performance between the consolidated and the split-sleep pattern.

The FMCSA said, “Driver metrics would be collected for the duration of the study, and participants’ safety performance and fatigue levels would be analyzed.”

The outcomes would decide whether or not the FMCSA should pursue reforms in the current Hours-of-Service regulations and bring in a more flexible sleeper berth program for drivers.

FMCSA has partnered with Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) and Washington State University to carry out the study.

Current Regulation

The existing HOS regulation requires drivers to take at least 8 consecutive hours in the sleeper, plus 2 extra hours in the sleeper or off-duty before going back on duty. This is in line with the Federal regulations that a property-carrying commercial driver must take 10 hours off duty before going back on duty.

New Sleeper Berth Options

The new sleeper berth options under the FMCSA’s latest pilot program offers a greater degree of flexibility to drivers.

According to this program, drivers would be able to split their sleeper berth hours into the following three combinations:

  • A split of 3 and 7 hours (resulting in a total of 10 hours)
  • A split of 4 and 6 hours
  • Two equal periods of 5 hours

On the contrary, as per the current regulations, drivers can only use the following options:

  • 10 consecutive hours
  • A split of 1 and 9 hours
  • A split of 2 and 8 hours

As per the pilot program, drivers can choose any of the 3 combinations, provided they meet the daily minimum rest requirements, i.e., 10 hours.

In the words of FMCSA, “Drivers will be able to use split or consolidated sleep schedules as they choose, but they still must meet the daily minimum rest requirements.”

Goals of FMCSA’s Pilot Program

The primary goal of the proposed study is to increase safety for everyone. FMCSA aims to study “safety performance and fatigue levels” of the participating drivers.

The study would be used to make improvements in the current regulations that would result in increased safety for commercial drivers as well as the general public.

Participation of Commercial Drivers

For the pilot study, FMCSA seeks approximately 200 drivers. The study would take 90 days, and the participating drivers could earn up to $600 by the end of the program.

If you are willing to participate, visit this link to fill up your application form, take a questionnaire, and give your written consent for participation.

FMCSA is Seeking Comments

The proposal is currently open for public comments. To drop your comments and answer the questions put forth by the FMCSA, you can visit the rule-making portal here and enter your search via Docket No. FMCSA -2016-0260.

After the public comment period of 60 days ends, the agency will announce the project starting date. According to the milestones provided by the FMCSA, the project would be completed by 2018.

Conclusion

We are looking forward to the project to kick-off. We are not sure of the outcome yet, but whatever it be, we are certain it would increase road safety and contribute to the efficiency and progress of our trucking industry.

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