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I read the FMCSA brochure and it has some pretty simple words regarding sleeper berth time and the 14 hour 'duty period'. "Only the use of a sleeper berth can extend the 14-hour on-duty period". Which seems simple enough, but now someone has realized that every driver is going to log sleeper for every 'break' during the duty period, in order to conserve the precious hours for driving which 'pays the bills'.
So now the 'split sleeper' provision is thrown in as a way to 'clarify' this rule and 'close the loophole'. It pretty much eliminates the benefits and incentive to use a 'power nap' when a driver gets sleepy during a 'duty period'. Any time not driving will 'eat up' hours in the 14 hour 'duty period', so the incentive (as I see it) is to keep driving even if you are sleepy, since there is no incentive to stop and rest, even if it is for only an hour or so. I don't understand it. Anybody out there 'see the light?'. firstname.lastname@example.org is my email address if you do. The intention is to try to force 'over the road' drivers to live on a 24 hour circadian clock. Work 14 hours max and rest 10 hours = 24 hours. Experienced truck drivers that have been living with the current rules for many years, will find that 'sitting' for an extra 2 to 3 hours after sleeping 7 or 8 hours quite irritating and a waste of productive time - getting the load down the road. An irritated driver out on the Interstate highways will tend to be aggressive, and now has even less incentive to stop and 'nap' will be irritated and sleepy - a deadly combination which will cause more crashes.
From the FMCSA FAQ - Questions 25 and 26:
Will one sleeper berth period that is a minimum of 2 hours in duration extend
the 14-hour limit?
The FMCSA publishes the new rules. The 'link' is below. Effective date 04 Jan 2004. The rules are implemented as options in DDL v3.2.
The new rules allow
drivers to drive 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off-duty. Also, drivers may
not drive beyond the 14th hour after coming on-duty, following 10 hours
off-duty. Similar to existing rules, drivers may not drive after being on-duty
for 60 hours in a seven-consecutive-day period or 70 hours in an
eight-consecutive-day period. This on-duty cycle may be restarted whenever a
driver takes at least 34 consecutive hours off-duty.
I calculated the 'lose' of Driving Hours by comparing the 'new' (11hr Driving/10hr Off Duty) and 'old' (10hr Driving/8hr Off Duty) rules. I 'jammed' cycles of Driving and Off Duty periods and found out that the new and old rules 'repeat' after 5.25 days (126 hours). The new rules resulted in 4 hours less Driving time in that period - new provides 66 hours driving compared to 70 hours driving under old rules. 4/70 = 0.0571 or close to 6% less driving time. Though it would be hard to maintain this 'pace' it is clear to even my mind (11 hr Driving followed by 10hr Off Duty compared to 10hr Driving followed by 8hr Off Duty) results in less Driving time (Driving time generates Revenue for both driver and motor carrier). Any loss of Driving time (productivity) results in less money for driver and if the motor carrier wants to maintain 'load' carrying capability, the motor carrier will need more trucks and drivers - up to 6% more trucks and drivers.
Thus there will eventually be more trucks 'out there' creating 'tension' on the highways, though in theory only the same number of trucks actually 'moving' at any point in time should be the same as the number that are 'moving' now. Only truck manufacturers will benefit. That elusive thing called 'Safety' will only be solved with proper technology i.e. systems that detect sleepiness in drivers by monitoring eye 'flutter' and other signs of sleepiness and fatigue.
I am trying to figure out what a truck driver who has slept 6,7,8, 9 hours and is required to wait until 10hrs has passed before he can drive again, will do during that added time compared to the 8 hours Off Duty now required. I am sure the 'itch' to get rolling is primarily on this mind. TV, computer, walking, video games, etc. only go so far...
The new 14 hour rule (replaces 'old' 15 hour rule) has a 'twist'. FMCSA has defined a 'duty period' as the time between 10hr Off Duty periods. And, any Off Duty times (less then 10hr hours obviously) 'count' against the 14 hour rule. Any 'breaks' for meals, rest area breaks, etc. count against the 14 hour rule. I suspect that the result will be a whole lot more 'snoring' (Sleeper Berth time) during meal breaks and rest area breaks since Sleeper berth time does not 'count' against the 14 hour rule. There is already a misconception - some folks think that only Sleeper time of 2+ hours does not 'count' against the 14 hour rule. The words from the FMCSA brochure: 'The 14-hour duty period may not extended with off-duty time for meal and fuel stops, etc. Only the use of a sleeper berth can extend the 14-hour on-duty period.' Nothing in those words about 2+ hours. I think folks mixing in the provisions of the 'split sleeper' (two periods of Sleeper berth totaling 8+ hours and each not less than 2 hours, etc.). Why do folks 'read more' then the words. It is pretty clear to me that ANY Sleeper berth time extends the 14 hour period. We will see....
Which brings up another possible misconception. 70hr/8day and 60hr/7day rules. They are 'operate' as they do now. Period. Off Duty periods during a duty period DO NOT count against the 70hr/8day or 60hr/7day rule.
Boy, these rule changes seem simple enough, but wait until the consequences 'sink in'.
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