Long-haul truck drivers always felt the need to sleep while being on the road.
In 1920, when the first sleeper has appeared, their hope became a reality.
Since then, sleeper cabs have grown in size and have become more comfortable.
But, truck drivers still didn't get the option of driving long uncontrollable miles because FMCSA was always blocking that type of practice.
But why sleep is mandated by law for truck drivers?
Because the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) wants to eliminate drivers driving in a state of fatigue to keep everybody on the US roads as safe as possible.
That is why they adopted the hours of service rules, and the sleeper berth rules, and the ELD mandate.
The problem is that the sleeper berth rules can be complicated to understand and I'll try to explain them in an easy-to-understand manner to help you avoid the costly violation penalties.
What are the Hours of Service rules?
What is the sleeper berth provision?
The sleeper berth provision is an aspect of the HOS rules that dictates how commercial motor vehicle drivers can use their off-duty time.
This rule allows the driver to split their break so that they make better use of their off-hours.
In other words, according to the sleeper berth provision, truck drivers don’t have to take all 10 hours off consecutively in one go because they can split it up.
How to use the sleeper berth split?
According to the HOS rules, drivers have a 14-hour window during which they can drive a maximum of 11-hours and they are also required to take a 30-minute break every 8 hours.
The initial sleeper berth rule stated that the driving clock can be reset only when drivers take a minimum of 10 consecutive hour breaks.
However, some truck drivers have issues with these 14 hour periods because, sometimes, the time to complete a route misaligns with the operating hours of a destination.
A driver starts his shift in the evening and arrives at the destination late at night.
If the dock doesn't employ a night shift, the driver may be forced to wait on site until morning when the dock reopens.
The HOS regulations state that any time a driver spends at the docking station, this time counts towards his 14-hour on-duty window.
The split sleeper berth rule allows the driver to extend his 14 hours of on-duty time by splitting those required 10 hours of off-duty time into two shifts.
This allows drivers to adjust schedules for things like longer hauls or warehouse hours by dropping in a rest break that pushes out a 14 hour driving period.
The split sleeper berth can be achieved by combining two breaks:
One short break period that should last at least 2 hours or 3 hours of off-duty not driving time.
The other longer break period should last at least 7 or 8 hours, which has to be spent in the sleeper berth only.
In the end, the combination of the short break and the long break should equal at least 10 hours (3h+7h or 2h+8h).
Those combinations satisfy the sleeper berth split rule.
How do the ELD's check the driver's compliance with HOS
Since the FMCSA established the first HOS rules, truck drivers were registering their hours on paper logs up until the FMCSA established the ELD mandate.
Though the ELD's recognize only four duty statuses of a driver, today, ELD's track every movement of the truck. Here are the four duty statuses:
- Driving: the ELD automatically switches the driving status once the vehicle moves at 5 miles per hour.
- On-Duty Not Driving: when the vehicle hasn't moved for five consecutive minutes, the ELD prompts the driver to confirm driving status. If the driver doesn’t respond within one minute, the ELD automatically switches to on-duty not driving.
- Off-Duty: Drivers must indicate or edit and annotate their off-duty status. Off-duty time can include periods of driving—for authorized personal conveyance.
- Sleeper Berth: Drivers must either indicate sleeper berth status or edit and annotate their RODs later.