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FMCSA Proposes New Pilot Program to Provide Commercial Drivers Additional Hours of Service Flexibility

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Proposed Pilot To Evaluate 6/4 and 5/5 Sleeper Berth Splits

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator (FMCSA) today announced a new proposed pilot program for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers to evaluate two additional options for splitting sleeper berth periods – a 6/4 split and a 5/5 split.

FMCSA continues to explore ways to provide flexibility for drivers, while maintaining safety on our roadways. 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 Wiley Deck.

During the proposed pilot program, participating drivers would have the option to split their 10 hours of sleeper berth time into two periods, provided that the two periods provide a combined rest amount of at least 10 hours in length. When operating under the pilot program exemption, drivers would be expected to split their sleeper berth time into two periods such that neither period is less than four hours in length; however, drivers would be free to choose whether or not to operate under the exemption based on their schedule. Carriers and drivers desiring to participate would apply to FMCSA for acceptance in the proposed pilot program.

As part of its rulemaking process on Hours of Service reform, FMCSA asked for public input for additional data regarding potential split periods of 6/4 or 5/5. During the comment period, the Agency did not receive any additional data or studies regarding these options, so this new pilot program will work to gather this additional data. As the lead federal agency responsible for America’s CMV safety and operations, FMCSA is the entity best positioned to collect empirical data on potential split sleeper periods.

FMCSA has worked closely with motor carrier stakeholders on the issue of sleeper berth periods.  Both motor carriers and organized labor have supported efforts to explore additional options, including the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, who stated that “the majority of Teamster team drivers…indicated they preferred having more flexibility in the time that they can obtain restorative rest periods.”

During the Trump Administration, FMCSA has focused on providing additional flexibility for commercial drivers, while maintaining the highest level of safety. In May 2020, FMCSA published updates to the hours-of-service rules that were based directly off the feedback the Agency heard from commercial drivers regarding the need for increased flexibility and improved safety.  

The Federal Register notice will have a 60-day comment period. To read the Agency’s notice of the proposed pilot program, visit: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/hours-service-drivers-pilot-program-allow-commercial-drivers-split-sleeper-berth-time

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