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FAQs on the Sleeper Berth Split: Understanding the Regulation and How to Use this Provision

In September 2020, four specific changes to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Hours of Service (HOS) rules went into effect. Intended by the FMCSA to “provide greater flexibility for drivers without adversely affecting safety,” one of these changes was a modification to the sleeper berth exception.

For fleets that are looking to utilize the sleeper berth exception, we compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on the topic. Read on for additional clarity about this exception and check out the FMCSA's page on the other HOS rule changes that went into effect in September 2020.

What is the sleeper berth exception?

As outlined by the FMCSA, the split sleeper berth exception allows a truck driver to qualify for the 10-hour minimum off-duty requirement by "spending at least 7 hours of that period in the berth combined with a minimum off-duty period of at least 2 hours spent inside or outside the berth, provided the two periods total at least 10 hours."

The FMCSA goes on to state that, when used together, “neither qualifying period counts against the 14-hour driving window.” More practically, this enables drivers to alter their schedules by adding in a rest break to accommodate longer hauls or time spent at a loading dock while still maintaining compliance with HOS rules.

How does the current rule differ from the previous one?

We summarized the key differences between the new rule and the old one in the chart below.
 

Previous Rule

New (Current) Rule

To use the previous version of the sleeper berth split provision, the driver must have met the following requirements:

  • Spend a minimum of 8 hours in the sleeper berth. This period is excluded from the calculation of the 14-hour driving window.

  • Take a rest period of 2 or more hours. This period is included in the 14-hour driving window.

To use the updated sleeper berth split provision, the driver must meet the following requirements:

  • One Off-Duty period (whether in or out of the sleeper berth) is at least 2 hours long.

  • The other Off-Duty period involves at least 7 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth.

  • Both Off-Duty periods added together must equal at least 10 hours.

  • When paired, neither time period counts against the 14-hour driving window.
     


It is important to note a couple points about this change: First, when using the sleeper berth provision, the order of the qualifying breaks does not matter. The break of at least 2 hours can fall before or after the sleeper berth period of at least 7 hours. It is also crucial to recognize that the 8-hour sleeper berth period by itself can no longer be excluded from the 14-hour driving window.

What are some examples of how the sleeper berth split is used?

Wrapping your head around this rule change can be confusing. To help clarify how this provision can be used, here are a couple of potential scenarios based on driver type:

  1. When utilizing the US 7 or 8-day Property Carrying Driver Type:

As drivers enter the sleeper berth split periods and:

  • The short sleeper berth split portion is used first:

    • At least 2 hours in Off-Duty or Sleeper Berth status completed.

    • The system continues to count the hours spent toward their daily work shift.

  • The long sleeper berth split portion is used second:

    • At least 7 consecutive hours in Sleeper Berth status completed.

    • The system recalculates the hours spent on the first portion to not count toward their daily work shift.

This ensures that drivers do not see an excess of available hours upon conclusion of the first portion, in case they do not intend to take the second portion of the split.

As drivers enter the sleeper berth split periods and:

  • The long sleeper berth split portion is used first:

    • At least 7 consecutive hours in Sleeper Berth status completed.

    • The system does not count the hours spent toward their daily work shift.

  • If the driver does not take a second, qualifying portion of the split:

    • The time spent in the first period is recalculated to count toward the driver’s daily work shift.

  1. When utilizing the US 7 or 8-day Property Carrying - Sleeper Berth Driver Type:

As drivers enter the sleeper berth split periods and:

  • The short sleeper berth split portion is used first:

    • At least 2 hours in Off-Duty or Sleeper Berth status completed.

    • The system does not count the hours spent toward their daily work shift.

  • The long sleeper berth split portion is used second:

    • At least 7 consecutive hours in Sleeper Berth status completed.

    • The system recalculates the driver’s availability from the end of the first qualifying period, with neither period counting against a driver’s work shift.

  • If the driver does not take a second, qualifying portion of the split

    • The time spent in the first period is recalculated to count toward the driver’s daily work shift.

As drivers enter the sleeper berth split periods and:

  • The long sleeper berth split portion is used first:

    • At least 7 consecutive hours in Sleeper Berth status completed.

    • The system does not count the hours spent toward their daily work shift.

  • The short sleeper berth split portion is used second:

    • At least 2 hours in Off-Duty or Sleeper Berth status completed.

    • The system recalculates the driver’s availability from the end of the first qualifying period, with neither period counting against a driver’s work shift.

  • If the driver does not take a second, qualifying portion of the split

    • The time spent in the first period is recalculated to count toward the driver’s daily work shift.

 

How do Trimble customers utilize this functionality?

Trimble's eDriver Logs support the use of the Sleeper Berth Split as outlined in the FMCSA’s new rule. Fleets also have the option to apply a driver-type (noted as examples in the previous question) to adjust the functionality of sleeper berth split options. For current Trimble customers, check with your Customer Success or Account Manager to ensure you have the latest software code to enable this functionality.

While our eDriver Logs ELD accounts for this provision, we are continuously enhancing the user experience to provide better transparency around a drivers availability. This includes introducing additional functionality to inform drivers after they've taken a qualifying sleeper berth split which has successfully paused their work shift as well as to inform them of additional time requirements pertaining to the split.

What else should I know about the split-sleeper berth provision?

If your fleet is interested in utilizing the split-sleeper berth functionality, it is crucial that you train your drivers on this provision and how to use it properly. As with any change to a driver’s workflow, it is important to ensure they understand why this change was made, how and where to use it and how it can help them maximize their available hours along their routes.

Looking for additional details on how Trimble can help you navigate a changing regulatory environment with technology? Contact us today to learn more about eDriver Logs ELD and our commitment to help you maximize the safety, compliance and performance of your fleet.