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ATA, Minnesota seek study on sleeper berth flexibility

The HOS rules require that drivers take 10 consecutive hours off after their 14-hour on-duty period, including an eight consecutive hour stint in the sleeper berth.

The Trucker News Services


ARLINGTON, Va. – The American Trucking Associations and Minnesota Trucking Association have jointly filed a proposal with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for a pilot project to study the impacts of increased flexibility in the use of sleeper berth breaks by commercial drivers.

“The trucking industry has long contended that the changes made to the spilt sleeper berth provisions of the Hours of Service rule were unfounded and would not improve the safety of our highways,” said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves. “Doing a pilot test in the real world would give the FMCSA real scientific data to base future improvements to the rule on.”

The Hours of Service rules for truck drivers require that take 10 consecutive hours off after their 14-hour on-duty period, but increasingly sleep research highlights the benefits of shorter, more frequent rest periods, the ATA and MTA have contended.

“In the case of many truck drivers, particularly those working in teams, allowing them to break up their 10-hour off-duty period into two shorter periods would be beneficial,” said John Hausladen, president of the Minnesota Trucking Association.

The provision requiring eight consecutive hours in the sleeper berth was part of the 2005 revision on the Hours of Service rule. The 2003 HOS rule, which was the first major revision to the regulation since 1962, allowed a driver to split time in the sleeper berth so long as no period in the berth was shorter than two hours. However, based on litigation, the U.S. Appeals Court for the District of Columbia overturned the rule, saying the FMCSA had not taken the health of the driver into account when it wrote the 2003 rule. In response, the FMCSA revised the 2003 rule to include the eight-hour sleeper berth provision.

In addition to examining the potential benefits of sleeper berth flexibility, the proposed pilot project would also look at the role of technological improvements in promoting safety.

To review the ATA-MTA request, click here.

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