DOT Announces New Pilot Program That Would Alter Hours of Service Regulations
In October, the Department of Transportation (DOT) announced a new pilot program that would study the effects of altering hours of service regulations for the ELD mandate. The research study would allow truckers to split their off-duty sleeper berth time into segments, instead of the required 10-hours off duty of the 8-2 hour split.
The study must be approved by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, but could ultimately lead to reevaluation of the hours of service regulations for truck drivers and those in the transportation industry.
To fill you in on what this entails, keep reading down below.
To understand what is going on, current Hours of Service regulations allow drivers to take an 8-hour sleeper berth time period to break up their 14-hours on duty or their 11-hour driving limit. Drivers who use this break must take a 2-hour off-duty period after the 11 hours are up.
The Hours of Service regulations have been a touchy subject for truck drivers. Just look at recent protests about ELDs that mostly focused on the Hours of Service rules. Truck drivers are voicing how unpredictable locations can be in terms of rest stops available. They are upset because a required break doesn’t mean that they can fall asleep instantly. Everyone is different, and a lack of flexibility in this regulation is what scares them the most.
In fact, scientific literature has suggested that regulatory limitations on hours of service may not be enough to prevent worker fatigue. A past study from 2011 that tested this demonstrated that daytime sleep led to:
- Less total sleep time
- Increased driver sleepiness
- Increased blood glucose and testosterone levels by the end of the work week
This study also showed that split-sleep is preferable to sleeping during the day, which is what indirectly led to this new pilot program that has been announced.
Research Plan Specifics
To begin, 240 drivers would be selected and studied for 3 months. These drivers would have the option to split their 10-hour off duty period into segments as they see fit, such as 5-5 or 6-4.
Researchers will study these drivers to determine if the split negatively affects the drivers and if it results in an increase of fatigue or crashes. Virginia Tech’s Transportation Institute and Washington State University will conduct the study.
By receiving data from ELDs, video recorders, roadside inspections, wrist actigraphy, psychomotor vigilance tests, sleep logs, and other means of data, researchers will be aware of daily life for each driver. They will then be able to make informative conclusions in regard to drivers using split sleeper berth options.
Feedback So Far
To voice your opinion, the DOT is accepting public comments for 30 days in regard to the study as it is being requested to the Office of Management and Budget. Many drivers have already made public comments, however.
There are those who believe the program should take place before the ELD mandate takes place, while others are against it. Most truck drivers do agree with the pilot program, with many highlighting how everyone doesn’t have the same sleep patterns. There is a public desire for flexibility in regard to the Hours of Service regulations.
What Happens Next?
If this pilot program is approved, then truckers could potentially have more flexibility in managing their hours of service.
That is a long way off, however.
For now, transportation workers need to focus on the ELD implementation, as it occurs soon on December 18th. If you are in need of an ELD, then contact UTECH today. With our knowledge and expertise, we will ease your fears, so you can continue doing your job efficiently.
We are leading specialists in the trucking industry, to help ensure safety for everyone on the roads. Our ELD has gone through a rigorous certification process, and we guarantee that it will make a great choice as an automatic onboard recording device for your business. With the well-known and tested GPSTab platform, our edition will provide more functionality to fleets of all sizes, while keep drivers happy.