FMCSA Proposes to Study 6/4 and 5/5 Split Sleeper-Berth Exceptions
Washington D.C. – The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration intends to study two additional options to provide sleeper berth flexibility to professional drivers.
In an announcement on Thursday, the Agency said it is proposing a new pilot program for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers to evaluate two additional options for splitting sleeper berth periods – a 6/4 split and a 5/5 split.
Specifically, during the proposed pilot program, participating drivers would have the option to split their 10 hours of sleeper berth time into two periods, provided that the two periods provide a combined rest amount of at least 10 hours in length.
When operating under the pilot program exemption, drivers would be expected to split their sleeper berth time into two periods such that neither period is less than four hours in length; however, drivers would be free to choose whether or not to operate under the exemption based on their schedule, the Agency explained.
Carriers and drivers desiring to participate would apply to FMCSA for acceptance.
“FMCSA continues to explore ways to provide flexibility for drivers, while maintaining safety on our roadways,” said FMCSA Deputy Administrator Wiley Deck. “This proposed pilot program will provide needed data and feedback for the Agency to use now and in the future. Gathering more data on split-sleeper flexibility will benefit all CMV stakeholders.”
The announcement of the pilot program is a partial win for the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) which previously petitioned the Agency to allow drivers to split their required 10 hours off duty in more combinations than just 8/2 or 7/3.
The Agency most recently considered allowing the 6/4 and 5/5 splits in its Hours of Service (HOS) final rule issued and implemented last year.
However, then Acting Administrator Jim Mullen explained to a group of stakeholders at a Truckload Carriers Association virtual meeting in June that the Agency ultimately declined to include the splits because sleep studies presented during the rulemaking process determined people require at least six hours of restorative sleep.
This newly proposed pilot program is another example of how the outgoing Trump Administration has made a concerted effort to find ways to provide additional flexibility to professional drivers and motor carriers.
It is unclear if the incoming Biden Administration will kill the proposal or not.
However, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, a major supporter of the Biden Administration, has indicated its support for ways to provide additional sleeper berth flexibilities.
This bodes well for the future prospects that this pilot program will be adopted under Biden’s FMCSA.
Commenters will have 60 days from the date of publication into the Federal Register to make their voices heard.
To comment simply log on to regulations.gov and search Docket ID FMCSA-2016-0260.
Click HERE to read more on this proposal.