WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator (FMCSA) Jan. 14 announced a new proposed 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.
“FMCSA continues to explore ways to provide flexibility for drivers, while maintaining safety on our roadways. 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,” said FMCSA Deputy Administrator Wiley Deck.
During the proposed pilot program, participating drivers would have the option to split their 10 hours of sleeper berth time into two periods — as long as each of the two periods is at least four hours and the combined time of the two periods equal at least 10 hours. Drivers participating in the program would also be free to choose whether or not to operate under the exemption based on their schedule. Carriers and drivers desiring to participate would apply to FMCSA for acceptance in the pilot program.
As part of its rulemaking process on hours-of-service (HOS) reform, FMCSA asked for public input regarding potential split periods of 6/4 or 5/5 in an effort to gather data on the two options. The agency did not receive any additional data during the comment period; this pilot program would help provide empirical data on potential split sleeper periods.
According to a statement from FMCSA, the agency has worked closely with motor carrier stakeholders on the issue of sleeper berth periods. Both motor carriers and organized labor have supported efforts to explore additional options. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters stated that “the majority of Teamster team drivers … indicated they preferred having more flexibility in the time that they can obtain restorative rest periods.”
Once published, the Federal Register notice will have a 60-day comment period. To read the Agency’s notice of the proposed pilot program, click here.