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FMCSA looking to add additional split-sleeper options

01.21.2021 - 12:27 PM Comments: 0

Since finalizing their latest hours of service updates in the summer of 2020, the FMCSA has continued to look at additional options for providing truckers with flexibility.

On Jan. 14, the FMCSA released plans for a potential pilot program, which would allow drivers to utilize a 6/4 and 5/5 sleeper berth split.

“This proposed pilot program will provide needed data and feedback for the agency to use now and in the future. Gathering more data on split-sleeper flexibility will benefit all CMV stakeholders. We encourage everyone to review this proposal and provide their public comments,” said FMCSA Deputy Administrator Wily Deck, per Fleet Owner.

Drivers who participate in the proposed pilot program would be able to split their 10-hour sleeper berth into two periods, as long as they meet the 10-hour requirement. Additionally, drivers are free to choose whether or not to apply the exemption based on their schedules, provided that neither period is less than four hours in length. 

In an attempt to gather additional insight from those in the industry, a 60-day comment period will be available for folks to provide their two cents on the proposed program.

This HOS update comes on the heels of some big adjustments that were finalized in 2020, where the FMCSA added a 7/3 split to the sleeper berth provision. 

At the time, the changes were praised by several notable organizations such as the American Trucking Associations and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. 

According to the FMCSA, the 6/4 & 5/5 split pilot program is supported by both motor carriers and organized labor, including the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

However, it’s important to note that this is still just a pilot program, meaning that nothing will be finalized anytime soon. 

The FMCSA uses pilot programs to conduct research on potential regulation exemptions. Per the FMCSA, “these programs are research studies where one or more exemptions are granted to allow for the testing of innovative alternatives to certain Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs).”

If you’d like to participate in the program, here are the necessary criteria you need to meet:

Motor Carriers

  1. Must have proper operating authority and registration;
  2. Must have the minimum levels of financial responsibility, if applicable;
  3. Must not be a high or moderate risk carrier, as defined in the Agency’s Federal Register notice titled “Notification of Changes to the Definition of a High RiskMotor Carrier and Associated Investigation Procedures” (81 FR 11875);
  4. Must not have a conditional or unsatisfactory safety rating;
  5. Must not have any enforcement actions within the past 3 years;
  6. Must not have a driver Out of Service (OOS) rate above the National average; and
  7. Must not have a vehicle OOS rate above the National average.

In addition, unpaid civil penalties may be grounds to be disapproved from participating in the pilot program. Motor carriers participating in the pilot program would be required to meet the following requirements:

  • Grant permission for drivers to participate in the Flexible Sleeper Berth Pilot Program.
  • Agree to comply with all pilot program procedures, which will be established and made available in written form to carrier-applicants prior to initiation of the pilot program.
  • Grant permission for researchers to install a video-based onboard monitoring system (OBMS), or to utilize an existing video-based OBMS for data collection, and gather records of duty status (RODS) information for each participating driver throughout the study duration.

Drivers

  • Operate the same CMV (equipped with a sleeper berth) as their main source of employment and regularly use the sleeper berth;
  • Have a valid CDL;
  • Maintain a valid medical certificate from a healthcare professional on the Agency’s National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners while participating in the pilot program;
  • Be employed by an approved motor carrier or certify as an owner-operator;
  • Agree to the release of specific information to FMCSA for purposes of the pilot; and
  • Agree to study procedures,4 including the use of RODS, video-based OBMSs, and actigraphs, which are worn like a watch on the wrist of the non-dominant hand to measure activity through light and movement to quantify and assess sleep/wake patterns of the wearer.

Additionally, drivers may not be slip-seat drivers who share the use of the same truck or truck-tractor with another driver(s) during separate periods, such as shifts, days, or weeks, due to installed study equipment.

In order to apply, prospective carriers and drivers would need to visit the pilot program website, which will surely be on the way once the FMCSA kicks off the program. 

So, what do you think about the program? Let us know in the comments below or on social media!

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