ATA, Minnesota Challenge Sleeper Berth HOS Rule

January 2, 2014


The new Hours of Service (HOS) rules have long-haul truckers seeing red. The 14-on-10-off rule that requires drivers to take 10 consecutive hours off after every 14-hour period on duty is considered particularly unnecessary by trucker teams that drive rigs equipped with sleeper berths.

Sleeper trucks were designed to address driver fatigue on long-haul routes by allowing two drivers to share the driving. Provision of a bunk where drivers could nap, two drivers could easily share the driving and stay on the road, switching off on a regular basis to reduce driver fatigue and maximize both safety and hours on the road. But those were the good old days before the feds stuck their big thumb into truckers' lives. The HOS rule that requires 8 of each team member's 10 off-duty hours to be spent in the sleeper berth is a particularly sore point with driving teams.

In formulating HOS rules, bureaucrats talked about "circadian rhythms" as if the body were a well-regulated clock and we all tick-tocked our way through the day at the same speed. While there's something to the underlying science, people are individuals and patterns of alertness and fatigue can vary widely.

American Trucking Associations (ATA) has long challenged the feds' conclusions in debate and is now doing so in court. With the Minnesota Trucking Association, the ATA has filed a pilot program proposal with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that would take HOS research out of the lab and put it in the cab. With the goal of achieving more flexible HOS rules, the ATA wants the feds to test various rest length options in actual long-haul driving conditions.

"The trucking industry has long contended that the changes made to the split sleeper berth provisions of the Hours of Services rule were unfounded and would not improve the safety of our highways," ATA President/CEO Bill Graves told "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," added John Hausladen, Minnesota Trucking Association president.

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