This month, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) and Minnesota Trucking Association (MTA) jointly petitioned the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to conduct, with the industry’s support and involvement, a pilot program to study the safety benefits and impacts of increased flexibility in the use of sleeper berth breaks by professional truck drivers.
“The trucking industry wants the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to take its positive, laboratory-based findings on the value of split sleep and try to repeat them in a real world field study” said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves. “Doing a pilot test using professional drivers in actual trucking operations could give the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration even more scientific data on which to base future improvements to the sleeper berth rules.”
The hours-of-service rules for truck drivers require that take 10 consecutive hours off after their 14-hour on-duty period, but increasingly sleep research highlights the benefits of shorter and more frequent rest periods.
“In the case of many truck drivers, particularly those working in teams, allowing them to break up their 10-hour off-duty period into two shorter periods would be beneficial,” said John Hausladen, president of the Minnesota Trucking Association.
In addition to examining the potential benefits of sleeper berth flexibility, the pilot project will also look at the role of technological improvements in promoting driver alertness and safety.