FMCSA seeks comment on company’s request for split sleeper berth exemption

October 17, 2019

Greg Grisolano

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is seeking comments on a trucking company’s request for an exemption from the split sleeper berth provision of the hours of service regulations.

The exemption request published Wednesday, Oct. 15 in the Federal Register.

PTS Worldwide Inc. is asking for the request on behalf of its 26 drivers. The company is based in Somonauk, Ill., and has 18 power units. According to the exemption request, the company transports “sensitive Department of Defense property, including ammunition and explosives.”

PTS seeks an exemption to allow its team drivers to split the equivalent of 10 hours off duty into two sleeper berth periods, neither less than 4 hours long. This would allow splits of 4/6, 5/5 or 6/4 hours. The exemption would apply to team operations only, and would last for five years.

The company claims its drivers “would be more alert if allowed to take shorter rest periods in the sleeper berth.” It contends that the shorter period would allow drivers to obtain nighttime hours in the sleeper and thereby minimize driver fatigue.

In its exemption application, PTS referenced additional studies that identified sleeper berth flexibility as a contributor to normalizing sleeping patterns and reducing fatigue.

FMCSA is requesting public comments on the exemption request. Comments may be filed online at Regulations.gov. The deadline to file is Nov. 15.

Split-sleeper addressed in HOS reform

While this exemption, if granted, would only apply to one motor carrier, increasing flexibility with the split-sleeper berth provision of the hours of service could be coming anyway.

As part of its notice of proposed rulemaking regarding hours of service, the FMCSA sought public comment on adding a 7/3 split sleeper option to the existing regulations. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association supports the 7/3 split as part of its overarching goal of granting drivers more flexibility within the hours of service. But the Association suggests more options would be better.

“Beyond expanding the split sleeper provision to 7/3, FMCSA should also include 6/4 and 5/5 splits in any final rulemaking,” OOIDA wrote in formal comments signed by President and CEO Todd Spencer. “These splits would increase flexibility, allowing drivers to increase their productivity without compromising safety.”

Comments on the hours of service reform proposal are due on Oct. 21. They can be made at the Regulations.gov website by using docket number FMCSA-2018-0248.

Greg Grisolano

Greg Grisolano joined Land Line in 2013. He was formerly a reporter for the Joplin Globe. He brings business writing and photography skills to Land Line, and has a passion for finding and telling stories about the people who make up the trucking industry.