Study Backs More Flexibility for Split Sleeper

A new study appears to suggest that drivers in the U.S. should have greater flexibility in how they break up rest periods using the split sleeper berth in the hours of service rules.

According to Heavy Duty Trucking, a study  prepared for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration by sleep scientist Gregory Belenky of Washington State University, indicates that a split sleep schedule is a better alternative than consolidated sleep during the day.

The study compared two  evenly split 5-hour sleep periods, from 3 a.m. to 8 a.m. and from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., to consolidated sleep periods at night and during the day.

Of the three, the 10-hour nighttime sleep was best, but the split schedule worked better than the 10-hour daytime schedule.

The U.S. sleeper rule is considered by many U.S. carriers to be too restrictive as it allows a split schedule but requires at least eight consecutive hours in the berth and another of at least two hours.

“This new research report is the third study in the last five years to arrive at the same conclusion,” Dave Osiecki, senior vice president for policy and regulatory affairs at American Trucking Associations, told HDT.  “That is, drivers should be given greater flexibility in how they may rest using a sleeper berth. This latest report, four years in the making, is pretty clear on this point.”

In Canada, the 10 hours of the sleeper berth can be split by drivers in two periods of their own choosing, provided one period is at least two hours.