Since the electronic logging device rule when into effect, it has highlighted another problem that many truck drivers simply “managed”; that is the lack of flexibility, especially when it concerns delays at shipper locations.
But, the ELD rule has generated renewed focus on areas of FMCSA regulations where change could occur, and on solutions already on the books to help with additional flexibility. One area of potential change that many are pushing for is in the 14-hour clock, which effectively caps any workday at 14 hours, regardless of how many hours a driver spent on the road or sitting at a shipper waiting.
That change will require a legislative solution, which is a possibility now that Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX) has introduced a bill that would extend the 14-hour clock.
A second solution, albeit only a temporary and occasional option, is to utilize the 8/2 split sleeper rule. According to FMCSA, “Drivers using a sleeper berth must take at least 8 hours in the sleeper berth and may split the sleeper berth time into two periods provided neither is less than 2 hours.”
Last week, in an Arrive Logistics and Reliance Partners webinar in conjunction with FreightWaves, transportation safety expert and vice president of risk services for Reliance John Seidl detailed the 8/2 split sleeper berth provision and how it can be utilized to provide more flexibility for drivers.
With the 8/2 split, Seidl said a driver could drive for 6 hours and then take a 2-hour off-duty break and then drive for another 5 hours. At that point, an 8-hour off-duty period would commence and, when combined with the 2-hour off-duty break, provide the 10 hours of equivalent off-duty time as required by FMCSA.
To illustrate how the 8/2 split can be used, consider:
The driver starts his day at 7 a.m. with 1 hour of on-duty, not-driving work. This starts the 14-hour clock and uses 1 hour of that time. At 8 a.m., the driver starts driving and drives until 1 p.m. He has now used 5 hours of the 11-hour drive time and 6 hours of his 14-hour clock.
At this point, the driver takes an 8-hour break in the sleeper berth. This time, taken in the sleeper, effectively stops the 14-hour clock. At 9 p.m., the driver gets back into the driver’s seat and still has 6 hours of available drive time and 8 hours on the 14-hour clock. He then drives for 6 hours, taking him to 3 a.m. and proceeds to take 2 hours off-duty time. The combination of the two rest periods is considered a 10-hour break under FMCSA rules.
BigRoad explained the 10-hour consecutive off-duty time in a blog post last year. In regard to the split sleeper provision, here is how it described it:
“To take advantage of this provision, a driver must spend at least 8 consecutive hours (but less than 10) in their sleeper berth. This rest period will not count as part of their 14 on-duty hours. The driver can then take a second, separate rest period of at least 2 consecutive hours (but less than 10). This period of time can be spent in the sleeper berth, off duty, or sleeper berth and off duty combined. This second break does count as part of the driver’s 14 on-duty hours.
“It doesn’t matter which rest period the driver takes first – the longer one or the shorter one. After the driver completes their second rest period, their 14 on-duty hours are calculated (starting from 0) from the end of the first break.”
Now, doing this day after day is not necessarily a good option for overall sleep patterns, but it can provide flexibility drivers sometimes need to make delivery times work. The driver still must abide by all other FMCSA regulations, including the 60-/70-hour workweek rule, the 34-hour restart rules, and the 8-day rule.
There is also renewed hope that FMCSA may create even greater flexibility with the split sleeper berth going forward. The agency is studying adding additional options on how to use the split sleeper provision, including 6/4 and 5/5 splits.
The FMCSA pilot program, announced last summer, is studying how additional flexibility will affect driver safety performance and fatigue.
Under the proposal, drivers can split their sleeper berth time in two 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.”
Daily rest requirements will still need to be met. FMCSA is also looking for information on whether the data collection is burdensome for carriers and drivers and how the data collection efforts should differ for team drivers.
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