U.S. authorities launch unusual sleeper-berth test

WASHINGTON, D.C.- To split or not to split, that is the question the American Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is hoping to answer with an unusual driver experiment, using real drivers in real time.

The goal: Develop “statistically reliable evidence” to see if split-sleeper-berth time affects driver performance, safety and fatigue.

The plan: Exempt a limited number of drivers from the existing regulation and watch what happens.

During the pilot program, participating truckers who regularly use a sleeper berth to accumulate their required 10 hours of non-duty work status would have the option to split their sleeper berth time within parameters specified by FMCSA. The agency would then collect and analyze data to measure the participants’ safety performance and fatigue levels.

Under the current American rules, any interstate trucker who uses the sleeper berth provision must take at least eight consecutive hours in the sleeper berth, plus a separate two consecutive hours either in the sleeper berth, off duty, or any combination of the two, before returning to on-duty status.

The agency said that for study purposes, drivers would be allowed to split their sleep into no more than two sleeper berth segments.

“Current regulations allow drivers to use one 10-hour period, or splits of nine and one hours or eight and two hours,” said FMCSA. “Drivers operating under the exemption for this study would be allowed to use any combination of split sleeper periods, totaling 10 hours, with neither period being less than three hours, allowing for the driver to use splits of three and seven hours, four and six hours, or two five-hour periods. Following study enrollment, drivers would be able to use split or consolidated sleep schedules as they choose (within study parameters), but they must still meet the daily minimum rest requirements.”

FMCSA will be seeking public comment on the pilot

The complete proposal can be accessed here.

Comments may be submitted online under Docket No. FMCSA-2016-0260 by clicking here.


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