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The 8/2 split sleeper and the future of hours flexibility

Drivers can potentially benefit from added flexibility by utilizing the current split sleeper provision allowed under hours-of-service laws. ( Photo: Shutterstock )

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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  1. I know this is meant with all good intention, however, people are not all the same, our work is not the same, our hours, our trucks, traffic, shift, driving region, none of it. Yes, it all makes a difference.
    Here’s a recent example. I had to complete my split sleeper, of two hours off duty, 1 hour from my final destination with 1 hour of beautiful daylight and sunshine left. Then I would be off for the following 24 hrs.
    After having completed an 8 hour sleeper birth and only 4 1/2 hours of driving. I waited in a rest area with no food or drink and watched the sun sink into darkness, the wind picked up to gusty 30 to 40 mile an hour winds, and it rained to beat hell. I drive slip seat, so I had to drive to get back for the next dispatch. I was rested the weather was beautiful but I had to risk my neck in shit weather because of this rule.
    Stop with the extreme regulations. 8 hrs. rest or off duty or 600 miles in a 24 hr. period whatever comes first. If anything do the drivers a favor, 1 hr. break every 8 hrs., 30 minutes is a joke it takes 15 minutes to pull down and get parked and hit the head (take a whiz), then you grab food that you can hold because your 30 min. are gone, then drive and eat at the same time. My case, everyone is different, STOP with the regs. that are too complicated to even figure out.

  2. Its pure stupidity!!!! 8/2. So last I checked, no one had a crystal ball! We dont k ow whats going to happen and you can’t predict the future! Either exte d the 14hr clock or take it away. We are only allowed to drive 11 hours a day anyway. Whats to say a driver spends 4 hours at a shipper then 8 hrs driving his 11. Thats 12 hrs. Then he wants to take a 4 hr nap to finish out his 3 hours he has left on his 11. Thats now 16 hours on duty and he is now rested for the rest of his trip and can probably make ontime delivery. Mind ypu that nal is makiing up for the time he was waiting at the shipper. Whats to say he only waited 1 hr at the shipper and drove 11 hrs straight? Thats 12 hours. The 14 hr clock worked. 14 hour clocks are dangerous! Period hands down! It forces you to run when your tired so you dont loose time. 8/2 doesn’t seem to work in the reference because 3 am isn’t the ideal delivery time. Free the 14 hour rule.

  3. Yeah…blah, blah, blah…get the fucking government out of the trucking business!!! Let us run till we’re tired!!! This shit is just plain stupidity!!!

  4. This wonderful little fairy tale is making it’s rounds, and I think to myself, this guy starts fresh in the morning so how much meaningful sleep is he gonna do from 1pm to 9pm? Then, where is he gonna find parking at 3am? And when he can’t find parking what does he do?

Brian Straight

Brian Straight leads FreightWaves' Modern Shipper brand as Managing Editor. A journalism graduate of the University of Rhode Island, he has covered everything from a presidential election, to professional sports and Little League baseball, and for more than 10 years has covered trucking and logistics. Before joining FreightWaves, he was previously responsible for the editorial quality and production of Fleet Owner magazine and Brian lives in Connecticut with his wife and two kids and spends his time coaching his son’s baseball team, golfing with his daughter, and pursuing his never-ending quest to become a professional bowler. You can reach him at