Podcast: Safety, the best argument for more flexible sleeper splits

| December 31, 2013

rest-in-pieceUntitled-1Following news of the American Trucking Associations’ urging of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to further study the science behind split sleep, many readers commented on a need for more permissive split-sleeper-berth rules. Many drivers remembered the legal ability to split in ways other than the current 8- and 2-hour possibility. Among them was owner-operator Gordon Alkire, who put the current situation quite succinctly: 

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My better half and co-driver and I used to do the split sleeper: 6 and 6 or 5 and 5. It worked for us. We managed to get the job done safely without a 34-hour restart. What was that? Never heard of it back then.

The advantages of the ability to split can stack up not just for team drivers — in such a situation, says Alkire, you’re “not behind the wheel long enough to get numb legs, fatigued, or bored and unsafe, then you’re back to the bunk to sleep.” Ideally, as it was with the pre-2003 hours of service regs, any extended time spent in the sleeper does not penalize your 14-hour clock.

Alkire says he generally sleeps 5 to 5.5 hours at a time whether driving or not, “and then I am up.” On the road today, he sits “getting bored until the 10 hours is up, and by then I am beginning to feel fatigued and on the downhill slide to being already in the need of a nap. This is unsafe.”

He echoes so many others on the hours rules in general, and the current sleeper-split regs in particular, when he says that “one sizes does not fit all.”

Listen to the podcast for further views, and call 530-40-VOICE, or 530-408-6423 to weigh in with your own thoughts on the subject of hours flexibility.

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  • Steve

    We all agree on this I think. The issue is that our lawmakers act with little knowledge or common sense. How to change that needs to be everyone’s challenge.

  • norman ott

    I remember the split sleeper and loved it, it was my choice to drive when I was not tired and sleep or rest when I need to. If I needed to run the full 10 hrs. I could. you had to be carful not to use up your 70 hrs too soon. If we had split sleeper and 34 hr restart just think how much pressure that would take off the driver.

  • monster

    I think they should start going after the shipping company for leaving the truck at the docks for 14 hours to unload the trucks. you already used up your driven time for the on duty. its impossible to run legal if you want to go broke.

  • monster

    that’s if you are owner operator. run the short runs its ok if you are the long haul

  • joetrucker

    I think we need to get rid of all the smart people that have nothing better to do than to come up with nonsense rules.
    They are just embarrassing themselves. Tell them to get a life.

  • Bigred

    I registered with CARB and this is my reply after the so called “Good Faith” lettter>>>>I just had my Motor rebuilt on this truck 3 years ago and I cannot afford another truck at this time for this reason. I am a one truck owner op. with my own authority and from what I hear the filters are not compliant or safe at this time either. I pay my taxes, also a heavy road tax and a UCR to operate in all states. I guess I can drop Ca. as others have and your state can deal with the higher freight rates since you have eliminated the competitive competition. Thank You,

  • jesse wood

    when i started driving trucks in 1972 the rules of compliance was not a issue,you could run 5hrs on and 5hrs in the sleeper and never run out of hrs with out being that tired or you could drive for 10 hrs and only had to take 8 hrs off,also back then some states would not allow you to drive more than 4 hrs straight without a 15 or 30 minute brake mo was one of those states

  • MercenaryMan

    You mean the Good People who have to justify a salary so they make bad rules and have no skin in the game so it never effects them, UNTIL the TV they want doesnt arrive on Christmas day….

  • norman ott

    I remember them days, 42 ft trailers, 73280 on interstate, brand new 55 mph speed limit, 2 cycle Detroits and full service at the pump while you ate your supper inside a café.

  • mousekiller

    A good many of our problems are our own fault. A majority of drivers, O/O’s and small fleet owners do not stay in touch with the elected legislators and tell them how some bills before them will effect them.Good or bad. Complaining over coffee or a beer does not get the job done. Many years ago I worked with a congressman that told me that if a bill is before them to vote on and only one person tells him it is bad and no one else contacts him, He vote against it even if the bill may be good for the industry if it was implemented. WHY ???? Because that one person was a majority. Drivers, there is a choice. Either get involved in how this industry is run or get out.

  • Doug Pickard

    This was in a time when the hours of service that were in place had been written by truck drivers and adopted by govt. It worked for over sixty years , even after deregulation. Our downfall was when the many new companys began to spring up after deregulation, and tried to cut corners by adding as many inexperienced and poorly trained drivers as possible to fill seats. With the shear numbers of poorly trained and ill equiped drivers it was only a matter of time before the accident rate grew out of control. Thus was the demand from the public for our elected officials to do something. That my friends is how we made it to where we are now…..

  • Todd

    Damn straight, this is something I keep telling some of the drivers I a have talked to out there. The problem is they are to afraid of the people they put in charge to do the right thing. In order to keep this country running smoothly and helping people of this country make a decent living.

  • mousekiller

    Amen Norman ott. That is one part of trucking history that will NEVER repeat it’s self. Today dock hands ( shipping clerks) don’t even know if 18 or 20 pallets will fit a 48 foot trailer nor do they know anything about chimney blocking pallets.

  • mousekiller

    Remember how we could sit at a truck stop to wait out the rush hour traffic such as in LA or Chicago ,Detroit with out penalty. ??? We were safer then by CHOICE.

  • mousekiller

    Doug. Actually it was the union that gave us the workable hours 60 years ago that did work for us. until lately.. Back in the day it was not unheard of for drivers to work 100 hours for 40 hrs pay. Back then 55 mph was unheard of. Few well paved maintained roads, open air cabs.hard rubber tires and poor suspension systems. Every thing was manual labor. No such thing as a fork lift or pallet jack. Just a few of the differences.

  • Eddie Smith

    Government you can write as many laws as you want to and we will continue to lie our way around them. So why don’t you just stay the Hell out of our lives? You don’t know what you are doing.

  • Eddie Smith

    Do you really think i show the whole time i am at a customer? HAHAHAHAHA!!!!

  • Gino

    The split sleeper demand is fueled by the ATA for none other reasons that it will keep their team trucks rolling 24/7 without ever having the drivers doing a 34 hr restart. Solo company drivers will no longer be hired, everybody will be pushed in to a team. The ATA push is NOT for the benefit of the driver.

  • localnet

    We need to be able to hit the sleeper and stop this clock. I need 5 or 6 hours of sleep, and I’m good. Leave me sitting in a truck stop wide awake doing nothing wears me out faster than working. So, I just go to work, to hell with this nonsense! Been doing this for 25 years, million, 2 million miles of safe driving and no tickets. I get tired, I pull over and sleep, this ain’t rocket science.

  • localnet

    Full service was nice, especially when the parked the truck… I miss the beer and picnic tables. Not to sit there and get drunk, just relax after a long day and just relax… Hit the shower and hit the rack…

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