ATA asks FMCSA implement pilot program to explore split sleeper berth time

TruckerTim0095 - sleeper - sleepThe American Trucking Associations, in conjunction with the Minnesota Trucking Association, has asked the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to conduct a two-year study to test whether truck drivers are just as rested and as safe when splitting the 10-hour sleeper berth requirements into segments rather than taking it all at once.

ATA and MTA submitted the request and proposal to FMCSA this week. ATA President and CEO Bill Graves noted FMCSA has already concluded in lab studies that split sleep, though not as good as sleeping in a consolidated period at night, still allows drivers to hit the 7-9 hour target range for sleep.

“The trucking industry wants FMCSA to take its positive, laboratory-based findings on the value of split sleep and try to repeat them in a real world field study,” Graves said. “Doing a pilot test using professional drivers in actual trucking operations could give the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration even more scientific data on which to base future improvements to the sleeper berth rules.”

In a statement, FMCSA says it is already planning to conduct a field test to gather more data on sleeper berth flexibility for drivers. “More than a year ago, Administrator [Anne] Ferro put out a call for proposals to help the agency test if electronic onboard recorders and the latest sleep research could offer improved safety and flexibility. The National Association of Small Trucking Companies responded and we are now in the planning stages of conducting a field operational test to examine the safety benefits and impacts of flexible uses of the sleeper berth. We will also be meeting with ATA and OOIDA on the issue,” the statement says.

The proposal from ATA and MTA says data could be collected on driver behavior to detect fatigue, the psychomotor vigilance task to check driver participants’ reactions to stimuli, the Karolinska Sleepiness Scale, crash and incident data and drivers’ electronic logbooks.

That data could then be analyzed and plugged into statistical formulas to determine the differences between the pilot program participants who slept in a consolidated block at night and those who split their sleep. Click here to see the proposal submitted to FMCSA.