Groups advocating for flexibility within the current hours of service regulations’ rigid 14-hour clock have turned to research to back up their cause.
The American Transportation Research Institute on Tuesday released results of a study that ATRI says lends strong credence to allowing drivers to break up their 10-hour off-duty period (and, thus, their 14-hour on-duty period) into segments. The study “found that drivers could spend less time and money driving the same distances behind the wheel,” ATRI said in a press release Tuesday.
The study comes a week after the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced it’s opening the door to hours of service reforms. The agency is accepting public comments for 30 days and engaging in four public listening sessions and will decide from there whether to proceed with a rulemaking.
ATRI’s study focused on a 40-mile stretch of a usually congested highway in Atlanta, with drivers operating under the straight 14-hour clock and then running the same stretch with an allowance for segmenting their 10-hour off-duty time into splits of 7/3, 6/4 and 5/5. Flexible hours options saved drivers more than 45 minutes of drive-time on average, ATRI’s research concludes.
Likewise, Trucker Nation, whose petition for an hours of service change is cited by FMCSA in its Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, says it leaned on sleep studies to support its proposal to allow drivers to use the same type of split-sleeper flexibility.
Studies performed by the New Jersey Institute of Science and Technology and by the National Sleep Institute “support the concept of intermittent resting rather than one block of rest,” says Andrea Marks, director of communications for Trucker Nation. “We used that data and came up with a realistic petition based on what we were hearing from our members and what we could back up with data.”
Trucker Nation advocates for allowing drivers to take their 10-hour off-duty time in whatever increments they like in the course of a 24-hour period while not running over 14 cumulative on-duty hours.
Another proposal specifically cited by FMCSA is a petition filed by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association early this year. It would allow drivers to effectively pause their 14-hour clock once a day for up to three hours and, with that, an end to the 30-minute break requirement.