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Sunday, March 3, 2024

FMCSA Looking at Split Sleeper Berth Rule


The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued a call for public comments regarding the agency’s plan for data collection for its pilot program testing the validity of a return to a split sleeper berth rule.

The FMCSA has proposed a pilot program that will allow temporary regulatory relief for a limited number of commercial drivers from the sleeper berth regulation. The intention is to test the allowance of more flexibility of the sleeper-berth provision within its hours-of-service rule for truck drivers.

Currently any interstate driver who operates a property-carrying vehicle equipped with a sleeper berth and who uses the sleeper berth provision must have at least 8 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth, plus a separate 2 consecutive hours either in the sleeper berth, off duty, or any combination of the two, before returning to on-duty status.

In the pilot program, drivers would be allowed to split their sleep into no more than two sleeper berth segments within parameters specified by FMCSA.

Driver metrics would be collected for the duration of the study, and participants’ safety performance and fatigue levels would be analyzed. Participating drivers will drive an instrumented vehicle for up to three consecutive months.

This pilot program seeks to produce statistically reliable evidence on the question as to whether split sleeper berth time affects driver safety performance and fatigue levels, the agency said.

FMCSA said it heard from many drivers saying they would like some regulatory flexibility to be able to sleep when they get tired or at other discretionary times.

At a minimum, FMCSA said it is proposing to gather the following data during the study:

Electronic logging device data, to evaluate duty hours and timing, driving hours and timing, rest breaks, off-duty time, and restart breaks

Onboard monitoring system data, to evaluate driving behaviours, safety-critical events (or SCEs, which include crashes, near-crashes, and other safety-related events), reaction time, fatigue, lane deviations, as well as traffic density, road curvature and speed variability

Roadside violation data from carriers and drivers, including vehicle, duty status, hazardous materials, and cargo-related violations contingent upon inspections

Wrist actigraphy data to evaluate total sleep time, time of day sleep was taken, sleep latency, and intermittent wakefulness

Psychomotor Vigilance Test data to evaluate drivers’ behavioural alertness based on reaction times

Subjective sleepiness ratings, using the Karolinska Sleepiness Scale to measure drivers’ perceptions of their fatigue levels

Sleep logs, in which drivers will document when they are going to sleep, when they wake up, and whether they are using the sleeper berth. For split-sleep days, drivers will record how and why they chose to split their sleep.

Other information that may be needed, such as vehicle miles traveled, will also be collected through the participating carrier.

On June 27, FMCSA published a notice in the Federal Register with a 60-day public comment period to announce the proposed information collection. When the comment period closed, the agency received five comments in response to the notice.

FMCSA has not made any changes or revisions to the design of the study based on the comments and would like more input from the public.