A new update to the hours of service rule is set to become a law beginning September 29, 2020. Truck drivers will be given an expanded split sleeper berth option, allowing them to pause their 14-hour clock in a duty shift for up to three hours. The new provision will enable drivers to split their 10 hours off duty into two shifts, one with a minimum of 7 hours.
The new split sleeper berth rule also gives drivers an extra hour of flexibility compared to the current 8/2 split. However, the shorter duration does not affect a driver’s 14-hour clock.
Split Sleeper Berth and Other Changes
Initially, a minimum of 8 hours in a continuous sleeper, and a minimum of 2 hours off-duty, personal conveyance, were required for the split sleeper exception. The new rule change requires drivers to have a minimum of 7 hours in non-stop sleeper, and not less than 2 hours off-duty, but both should make a 10-hour minimum in order to qualify for the split sleeper exception.
The new rule brings down the sleeper berth requirement to continuous 7 hours, down from 8. Both windows’ total must add up to at least 10 hours, with the second period required to be at least 2 hours.
The current regulations dictate that drivers must go on a 30-minute break during the first eight hours on-duty, and indicate it as off duty. Drivers can now log the 30-minute break differently to preserve on-duty time, a privilege they have not had in the past. Any stops to dock a trailer, fuel, or perform any task other than driving are considered on-duty and are not counted in the mandatory break.
The new stipulations offer a lot more flexibility, in that drivers still go for a 30-minute break, but during the first eight hours driving window, rather than during on-duty time. They can log the time as on-duty, sleeper berth, or off-duty.
The short-haul exemption radius has also been extended from 100 to 150 air miles. It allows fleets to increase the maximum on-duty limit to 14 hours, up from 12. This means fleets and drivers are not required to maintain records of on-duty status or take the 30-minute rests.
In adverse driving conditions, truck drivers are currently allowed to increase the driving limit to 13 hours a day, up from 11, but they cannot go beyond the 14-hour driving window. However, in the new rule, while adverse driving conditions still stretch the driving limit to 13 hours in 24 hours, it also stretches the daily driving window up from 14 to 16 hours a day. With this provision, drivers are allowed to wait for roads to clear or drive at slow speeds, to avoid the rush of having to complete daily tasks within the 14 hours.
How Technology Can Help Fleets With Planning Under the New Regulations
Proper route planning can make HOS regulations easy to meet. Fortunately, there are several key areas under which the use of technology can assist fleet managers and drivers when planning for loading and trips.
Managing Split Sleeper Berth with ELDs
As of now, most ELD systems offer limited functions with regard to managing the sleeper berth split. Drivers are forced to do it manually. Going forward, there will be a need for an ELD platform that readily provides drivers with a simple guide on how to use the split sleeper berth, as opposed to displaying remaining time on the 11 and 14-hour clocks.
The new split sleeper berth rule changes are now in force, and some ELD and telematics providers will be keen to work on the necessary updates. It is vital to ensure that fleet managers and drivers have an easy way through the new rule and have great coverage across the imminent changes.
Software providers are keen to develop features that use instant HOS data for load planning. This must also satisfy compliance, customer service, safety, and driver satisfaction constraints.
Already, there are measures in place where dispatchers have real-time access to loading and offloading times. This helps designated customer locations with load planning. An ELD app enables fleet managers and drivers with trip planning, providing details of all the tasks and routes to cover. The driving sequence and resting times are updated on a time to time basis. Updates allow the system to recalculate the estimated arrival times for drivers for each destination based on location, HOS status, and speed.
Driver Trip Planning
Besides drivers gaining more hours of service flexibility, a new wave of trip planning tools is coming up to assist fleets with sound decision making. As opposed to sending drivers static route plans, fleet managers incorporate special planning tools to treat staff as their business partners and take measures only when necessary. They can intervene in circumstances that hurt customer service or compromise profitability.
Optimized Load Planning
The new HOS changes afford fleet operations some necessary dynamics, but management must continue to evaluate different possibilities of maximizing asset utilization. Drivers usually encounter delays and other conditions on the road, and developing optimized trip and load planning tools is a welcome move.
When creating trips, there is a need for fleet managers to consider drive times, pre and post-trip times, service times, and route traffic situations.
Driver Fatigue Management
Driver fatigue remains one of the most crucial factors that fleets need to consider in load planning. New technology devices have predictive models designed to use ELD and other data to determine drivers with higher safety risks as a result of fatigue. Driver fatigue models are typically based on predictors such as the following:
- Driver’s on-duty hours, and total drive time in the last week or month.
- Domestic factors such as changes in the driver’s lifestyle. Situations such as a sick family member, divorce, or even a newborn in the family are factors that could affect individual rest time.
To comply with the split sleeper berth rule, and to ensure you abide by the hours of service regulations, it is advisable to use an ELD solution. Azuga’s ELD app has been approved by the FMCSA and connects to the OBD port to automatically collect essential vehicle data throughout the day.
Fleet managers can review the HOS report on the dashboard to see real-time drive stats, the remaining time before a driver rest break, and the number of hours before their driving period elapses.