The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) limits how long commercial motor vehicle drivers can remain behind the wheel through its Hours of Service (HOS) regulations.
The sleeper berth provision, under HOS regulations, was meant to promote safer driving habits and schedule flexibility in the trucking business. However, it remains one of the more complicated components of the Hours of Service rules for drivers and fleet managers.
Despite the complexity, it’s crucial to understand the sleeper berth provision, as it can benefit drivers who require additional flexibility in their scheduling.
What Is the Split Sleeper Berth Rule?
Under the HOS rules, drivers must limit their driving time to 11 consecutive hours, and the driving hours must happen within a consecutive 14-hour window. After the 14-hour window, drivers must go off-duty in their sleeper berth for ten consecutive hours.
The sleeper berth provision is under HOS guidelines, which dictate how truck drivers spend their time off duty. The provision permits drivers to divide the 10-hour off-duty driving requirement into chunks.
With the split sleeper rule, drivers don’t have to take all the 10 hours off at once. This guideline allows drivers to better manage their on-the-road schedule by allowing them to take rest breaks while still adhering to mandated rest time requirements.
How Does the Split Sleeper Berth Provision Work?
In September 2020, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration revised HOS rules. Previously, the HOS said that drivers who choose to split their 10-hour off-duty shift into two parts must do so in a two-hour segment and an eight-hour segment, where the two-hour chunk would count against the 14-hour window.
Drivers can split sleeper berth time under the new guidelines, including 8/2, 7/3, and 7.5/2.5. The only requirement is that the two parts total at least 10 hours. By adding a rest break, truck drivers can pause their 14-hour window.
The goal of revising the Hours of Service rules was to provide drivers greater freedom while also enhancing driver safety. Long hours behind the wheel have been linked to driver weariness and an increased chance of accidents.
An Example of How the Split Sleeper Berth Provision Works
In this scenario, we’ll assume a driver starts their day at 6 a.m. with an hour of non-driving on-duty time. The 14-hour work window for this driver would begin at that time.
The driver gets behind the wheel at 7:00 a.m. They stay on the road for five hours, till noon. At this point, the driver has spent five hours of driving time out of eleven hours available and six hours of operating time from 14 available hours.
Let’s assume the driver takes an eight-hour rest in the sleeper berth at this point. The 14-hour clock temporarily pauses as a result. The driver still has six hours of drive time and eight hours of total operating time when they resume driving at 8 p.m.
Why Would a Driver Choose To Take Split Sleeper Berth Time?
Under HOS regulations, drivers must operate within a 14-hour on-duty window and be off-duty for ten consecutive hours. This limit can be a significant issue for drivers because the time it takes to get somewhere doesn’t necessarily fit the times given out in the HOS rules.
By allowing truck drivers to break the obligatory ten consecutive hours off-duty time into two, the split sleeper berth rule enables them to work longer shifts.
HOS regulations stipulate that time spent at loading docks counts toward the driver’s 14-hour on-duty period, even if the dock is closed and the driver is waiting for it to open. A shorter break from work to lengthen the 14-hour timeframe helps drivers beat such challenges.
The split sleeper berth rule enables truck drivers to be flexible with their schedules while operating within HOS rules.
How to Prevent Sleeper Berth Time Violations
Electronic logging devices (ELDs) are necessary for truck drivers to track and record how they spend their time. An ELD will assist you in avoiding making a mistake and earning a citation for not adhering to the driving time limits.
To accurately observe the split sleeper berth rule and minimize confusion, drivers can use an ELD with the split-logging exception.
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