ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- As special interest groups prepare yet another court challenge of the current American hours-of-service rules on the grounds they're too lax, the nation's top carrier group is arguing that truck drivers need greater flexibility to allow drivers to select sleep times and duration based on individual need.
A new study by the American Trucking Associations and sleep research firm Circadian International, evaluates whether features of the current HOS rules are meeting their intended purpose of improving sleep, driver alertness and safety. One such provision is the sleeper-berth rule, which requires drivers to split sleeper-berth rest segments into two periods, one of which must be eight hours.
11 recognized sleep experts say allowing drivers to
select sleep times increases safety on the highway
The report, described as a first-of-its-kind research project, studied compliant and non-compliant driving scenarios. In it, 11 internationally recognized sleep experts and 67 professional truck drivers found that allowing drivers to select sleep times and lengths to suit their individual needs maximized sleep opportunities, ensuring better alertness and safety on the nation's highways.
"Motor carriers for decades have safely utilized the flexible sleeper berth provisions to assure their drivers obtain needed rest," said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves. "Flexibility in the splitting of sleep periods mitigates fatigue and affords inherent protections that are critical for the safety of our drivers and the motoring public."
Added Martin Moore-Ede MD, PhD, CEO of Circadian International: "We found a clear consensus in favor of increased flexibility between leading sleep scientists who have studied driver fatigue, and truck drivers who use sleeper berths on a regular basis.
"These are the two groups probably most qualified to judge the impact of the current HOS split sleep and 14-hour clock rules on driver alertness and safety."
For the most part, ATA supports the HOS rules implemented by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in 2004. However, ATA believes the rules should provide greater flexibility for both solo and team drivers who utilize sleeper berths. Today's Trucking