The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s research division says it’ll likely be another year before it launches a pilot program to see if drivers can safely split their sleeper berth rest time.
According to Heavy Duty Trucking, the contract to conduct the 90-day study will be let in December, but the project will have to be cleared by the Office of Management and Budget, and the administrative preparations – leading to a possible 2016 start date.
The agency is undertaking the pilot at the request of carriers and drivers who want more flexible sleeper rules, reports HDT.
The current rule says drivers who use the sleeper berth must take at least eight consecutive hours in it, plus two separate consecutive hours either in the berth, off-duty or any combination of the two.
In remarks to the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee in Alexandria, Va., and agency official confirmed FMCSA aims to test the premise that greater flexibility will reduce driver fatigue.
FMCSA will work with industry groups to solicit and screen select drivers through a website. Drivers who are accepted will be trained in the North American Fatigue Management Program.
Their driving behavior will be tracked through onboard monitoring systems, including electronic logs. They also will complete a psychomotor vigilance test twice a day, and will wear actigraph watches to track sleep patterns, heart rate and physical activity, reports HDT.