Recently, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) modified the hours-of-service regulations to allow two periods of sleeper berth time: either an 8/2 or 7/3 split. Now, the FMCSA is considering allowing the split to be more equitable, running tests on drivers having a 6/4 or even 5/5 split.
Do not get too excited about any further changes just yet; the FMCSA wants to perform a study on the changed sleeper berth provisions before working to make it official.
Such a study, the FMCSA estimates, would require a sample size of 200 to 400 drivers to get an accurate representation on how a 6/4 or 5/5 split would have on the driver’s quality of sleep at night and behavioral awareness during the day.
We are not sure how we feel about this. More flexibility is normally a good thing, but if truckers have two shorter sleep sessions instead of one longer session, that could entail lost break time spent on falling asleep. There is also the entailing court battles that the changes will cause: the recent changes are already in court, and whatever difficulty it has against judges currently will be magnified under the more lax conditions.
Wiley Deck of the FMCSA assures Americans that the FMCSA is foremost concerned about safety and will not continue pushing for the provisions if the pilot program proves detrimental. “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. We encourage everyone to review this proposal and provide their public comments.”
The proposal has not yet been published in the Federal Register, nor is currently planned to be published on a set date. As such, it is very possible that the 46th president of the United States, as well as any resulting changes to the DOT and FMCSA, may enact to quash the pilot program altogether. The previous changes to the hours-of-service regulations have been published for a few months now, and as such will have a harder time being removed from the books. For the 5/5 split, however, things do not look very favorable. If any news of the final fate of this pilot program appears, we will let you know.