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Comparing the old and new sleeper-berth provisions

Part 3 of a four-part series on the revised HOS rules

Posted September 17, 2020

Regional and long-haul truck driving teams that operate sleeper cabs need to know how to comply with upcoming changes to the federal hours-of-service (HOS) rules.

On September 29, 2020, four subject areas will be affected by the HOS revisions:

  1. The sleeper-berth provisions,
  2. The 30-minute break rule,
  3. The 100-air-mile exception, and
  4. The exception for “adverse driving conditions.”

Part 3 of a four-part series focuses on the sleeper-berth provisions. Two previous articles in the series addressed the 30-minute break and 100 air-mile exception, respectively.

Examining the changes

Section 395.1(g)(1) applies to drivers of property-carrying commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) equipped with a sleeper berth that complies with §393.76.

The sleeper-berth provisions indicate how a sleeper berth may be used to obtain required rest. Changes to the rules will affect the “split break” option, which allows drivers to split their 10-hour rest breaks into two separate, qualifying breaks.

Current / Old Rule

New Rule

  • To get a “split” break, truck drivers must spend at least 8 consecutive hours in a sleeper berth, plus another rest break of at least 2 hours, to reach 10 hours total.
  • The shorter break counts against the 14-hour limit.
  • To get 10 consecutive hours of rest in a moving vehicle, a driver may ride in the passenger seat for up to 3 hours after spending at least 7 hours in the sleeper.
  • To get a “split break,” drivers must meet all three of the following criteria:
    1. One break is at least 7 consecutive hours in a sleeper berth.
    2. The other break is spent off duty or in a sleeper berth and is at least 2 consecutive hours.
    3. The two breaks, when added together, equal at least 10 hours.
  • Neither rest period counts against the 14-hour limit.
  • To get 10 consecutive hours of rest in a moving vehicle, a driver may ride in the passenger seat for up to 3 hours after spending at least 7 hours in the sleeper.

Impact of the new rule

Unlike most revised rules, many transporters are actually looking forward to the changes on September 29, 2020, since they offer more flexibility.

Consider the following benefits of the new sleeper-berth provisions:

  • Individual and team drivers who “split” their 10-hour break into two qualifying breaks will have more flexibility in deciding how long their rest breaks will be, since a 7/3 split will be a new option.
  • More drivers will take an interest in trying the split-break option if they discover it can be used to pause the 14-hour clock, especially if they use ELDs that calculate compliance automatically.
  • More drivers may choose to go off duty for 2 or more hours when they encounter delays — so they can pause the 14-hour clock — as long as they will be able to go into a sleeper for at least 7 hours later in the day. However, drivers who fail to complete all 10 hours of “split” rest may easily go into violation, so they should plan ahead to ensure they will achieve the entire 10-hour break when they take the shorter of the two breaks.
  • Drivers will gain more productivity since neither qualifying rest break counts against the 14-hour limit.

Planning for the switch

The “split” sleeper option is one of the most confusing HOS rules around. Make sure drivers who want to use that option are adequately trained.

If your drivers avoided split breaks in the past, they may want to consider them again, given the additional benefits provided under the new HOS rules. The changes give drivers more flexibility in dealing with delays or working their schedules around rush-hour traffic.

And, lastly, consider partnering with an ELD vendor that has a proven track record of compliance with the sleeper-berth rules.

This article was written by Kathy Close of J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.

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