WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration yesterday published a series of technical amendments to the final hours of service rule.
The final rule goes into effect in January 2004.
Of most interest to Canadian carriers is the amendment to the sleeper berth provision reports the Canadian Trucking Alliance.
In the original rule, the following limits were specified for on-duty and off-duty time where the so-called sleeper berth exception is being used:
1. The 10-hour consecutive off-duty requirement may be satisfied by two sleeper berth rest periods, neither of which may be less than 2 hours;
2. Total driving time in the two on-duty periods before and after a sleeper berth rest, when added together, may not exceed 11 hours;
3. The accumulated on-duty-time in the two periods before and after a sleeper berth rest, when added together, may not include any driving time after the 14th hour.
What was intended by the prohibition on driving after the 14th hour was never clear, reports the CTA: did it mean after the 14th hour of on-duty time accumulated in the two periods on either side of a sleeper berth rest; or instead, after the 14th hour of elapsed time since coming on duty?
Recently FMCSA officials have been quoted as giving both interpretations.
The technical amendment issued yesterday offers clarification. It is now clear that time spent in a sleeper berth, provided that (a) it is at least two hours in length, and (b) it is used as part of the ten-hour off-duty requirement, does not count toward the 14-hour limit.
In other words, eligible sleeper berth time has the effect of extending the on-duty window beyond 14 hours.
For example, the following scenario would be allowed:
Load – two hours Drive – three hours Off duty – one hour Drive – four hours Sleeper – three hours Drive – four hours Sleeper – seven hours
In the above example, no driving occurs after the 14th hour of cumulative on-duty and off-duty time in the two periods on either side of the sleeper berth rest period.
In addition, the two other requirements of the rule are satisfied: there is no more than 11 hours driving in the two on-duty periods, and ten hours off-duty time is accumulated in the two sleeper berth rest periods.
Please note there a few other amendments included for oil field service vehicles and short haul vehicles. For the complete rule please visit http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/14mar20010800/edocket.access.gpo.gov/2003/03-24765.htm
Truck News is Canada's leading trucking newspaper - news and information for trucking companies, owner/operators, truck drivers and logistics professionals working in the Canadian trucking industry. All posts by Truck News