In January, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced they will be exploring further flexibility for team drivers by evaluating 6/4 and 5/5 sleeper berth split options in a new pilot program.
According to FMCSA Deputy Administrator, Wiley Deck, “gathering more data on split-sleeper flexibility will benefit all CMV stakeholders.”
Last year, the hours-of-service rules were revised to allow team drivers to choose to spend only seven hours in the sleeper berth instead of eight as drivers can split their required 10 hours off duty into two periods: an 8/2 or a 7/3 split.
While this did not change the 14-hour driving window, the FMCSA hopes this will reduce driver temptations to speed or operate unsafely because their workday is ending.
“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,” said Deck.
As part of the pilot program, FMCSA will collect driver metrics, such as crashes, fatigue levels, caffeine consumption and duty status for the duration of the study and analyze participants’ safety performance, but the data collected does not guarantee the agency will go forward with the proposed rulemaking.
FMCSA will provide systems and devices to participants for:
- Driver record of duty status
- Video-based monitoring system
- Roadside violations data
- Wrist actigraphy data to evaluate sleep and wake times
- Psychomotor vigilance test data for driver’s behavioral alertness based on reaction times
- Subjective sleep ratings to measure driver fatigue levels
- Driver sleep logs
The program, of around 200-400 drivers from all fleet sizes, will start with 90 days using the current HOS regulations followed by at least 6 to 12 months to collect data from driver participants operating under a temporary exemption from current HOS and allowed to split time as 6/4 and 5/5.
While we wait over a year for the data to be collected and analyzed, it begs the question of why not just use a simpler solution and do what the proposed rule changes for the last three years has included—the use of the sleeper berth to stop the 14-hour clock for up to three hours.
According to one driver, “Instead, the FMCSA went with the split sleeper berth option for flexibility. The problem with that is figuring the remaining available hours from the first rest period. It is all very confusing and the ELD system we use does not automatically calculate those hours. The driver shows HOS violations until the ten hours is met. Now they want to waste money on the 6/4 and 5/5 split? In typical government fashion they are wasting money on studies and making it more difficult than it needs to be. Simply stop the clock when in the sleeper berth for up to three hours. Simple.”
Only time, and the data collected, will tell if more flexibility will come to the split sleeper berth hours-of-service rules.
With new HOS rules on the horizon, it is time to start training company drivers so they understand how their workday will improve.
This week will be the first time the hours of service rules will have a major update in years that were highlighted after the ELD rollout.
Drivers could begin operating under the new HOS regulations on September 29, 2020 after the rule was debuted on May 14, 2020.
The four HOS rules changes will improve the workday for many truckers, including short-haul and team drivers, and will increase overall flexibility while the overall structure of HOS rules have not changed.
Drivers must still abide by the:
- maximum 11 hour driving limit within a 14-hour window/workday (except for adverse driving conditions)
- 10 minimum hours off between workdays; and
- continued weekly 7 or 8 day driving time maximums
What is changing and how will this affect the trucker’s workday?
What are the 2020 HOS Rule Changes?
The 4 major changes in the 2020 hours of service reforms will affect the: 30-minute rest break requirement, split-sleeper berth exception, short-haul exemption and adverse driving condition exemption.
30-minute rest break: The changes to the rest break requirement will affect most long-haul truckers on the road as it will allow drivers to take their required 30-minute break during an “on-duty, not driving” status, rather than “off-duty” status.
Previously, drivers had to be “off-duty” to take a rest break, meaning they could not perform any work functions during their break.
Now, drivers can be “on-duty, not driving”, which allows them to perform paperwork or fuel their truck while on break.
For many truck drivers, this change is exciting as it allows them to complete some of the busywork required of them.
Note: This change does not affect short-haul drivers as they do not need to take a 30-minute break.
Team driving split sleeper berth exception: Team drivers can now choose to spend only seven hours in the sleeper berth instead of eight as drivers can split their required 10 hours off duty into two periods: an 8/2 or a 7/3 split.
While this does not change the 14-hour driving window, the FMCSA hopes this will reduce driver temptations to speed or operate unsafely because their workday is ending.
Short-haul exemption: For short-haulers operating larger or heavier vehicles, drivers can now increase their maximum on‑duty period from 12 to 14 hours and extend the short-haul radius from 100 air-miles to 150 air-miles. Learn more about the original Short-Haul Exemption
This change is simply being consistent with short-haulers driving vehicles under 26,000 lbs.
While drive-time is not being extended, these short-haul drivers, such as local delivery, construction, or waste drivers, can increase their driving distance by 50 air-miles, and allow them to work at their job site or office for a couple more hours.
Drivers and fleet managers can now be more creative with a driver’s work schedule and should be trained on these hours of service rule changes to make sure they understand the boundaries of the FMCSA regulations.
Adverse driving conditions exemption: Truck drivers who experience unanticipated adverse road conditions, such as unexpected inclement weather, vehicle accidents, or road closures can extend their 11 hour drive time to 13 hours and allow the 14-hour driving window to be extended to 16 hours.
This flexibility gives drivers more time to slowly drive through poor road conditions or find a safe place to park and wait without rushing to finish their shift.
Drivers need to be trained on exactly what situations are considered “adverse driving conditions,” what their options are regarding log books, and how to notate or document the exemption.
DOT and Driver Training
Truck drivers and fleet managers need continuous training on new FMCSA rules
These HOS rule changes provide an important opportunity for fleets to update their driver training.
CNS offers a variety of in-person and online training courses for the specific needs or weaknesses of your company or its’ drivers.
Fleets that incorporate training alongside driver qualification, drug testing and fuel tax management can create a complete picture of fleet safety.
Our complete DOT Compliance Programs promotes proactive safety and will complement or become your current safety department, without the cost of employing the many staff members it takes to run an effective safety program.