Trucking company wants exemption to split sleeper berth time

By Jami Jones, Land Line managing editor | Thursday, January 05, 2017

Dillon Transportation executives want their team drivers to be able to split sleeper berth time, and have petitioned for an exemption from the rules that prohibit it.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is considering an application for exemption from Dillon Transportation. The agency begins accepting comments for 30 days on Jan. 6.

According to the notice that will appear in the Federal Register Jan. 6, the motor carrier is requesting that its team drivers be allowed to split the 10 hours of sleeper berth time into two periods, provided that neither of the periods is less than three hours.

The hours-of-service regulations require 10 hours of off-duty time be spent in the sleeper when out on the road. Drivers have the option of splitting that time into an eight-hour period in the sleeper and a two-hour period. The two-hour period can be spent in the sleeper or simply off-duty.

In previous versions of the HOS regs, drivers were able to split the sleeper berth time pretty much any way they wanted to, with team drivers often splitting the time into two five-hour stints.

Dillon Transportation operates a fleet of 103 vehicles with 50 of their 111 drivers operating as teams. The carrier runs in all of the lower 48 states. In the notice, FMCSA says that Dillon Transportation officials report that the majority of their drivers are home weekly with 34-48 hours off. The notice goes on to state that Dillon officials acknowledge that some drivers stay out on the road longer, but that it “is their choice to do so; Dillon does not require their drivers to stay on the road for more than five days.”

The motor carrier officials also note that all of their trucks are equipped with double bunks in the event that both drivers need to be off the road and resting at the same time and they track HOS compliance with electronic logs on their speed-limited trucks.

To offset the latitude an exemption allowing a seven and three split of sleeper time, Dillon officials have proposed that they would voluntarily reduce driving time from 11 hours to 10 for their teams. Solo drivers would continue to be allowed to drive 11 hours.

Interestingly enough, this isn’t the first such request to split sleeper berth into a seven-hour and three-hour split. CRST petitioned for the same thing in August 2015. FMCSA spokesman Duane DeBruyne reported that a decision on the exemption request is still pending.

The request for an exemption also comes in the midst of a flexible sleeper berth pilot program being conducted by FMCSA.

The goal of the program is to “demonstrate how split-sleep in conjunction with the North American Fatigue Management Program could be used to improve driver rest and alertness.”

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