channel 19

Todd Dills

Split sleeper wishful thinking, redux

| December 19, 2013

Rear of convertible hopper bottom trailerSeems forces are aligning to potentially put those outdated State of Michigan forms I wrote about almost two years ago back in action. You may remember the brief story — TCRG Consulting’s Richard Wilson pointed the old forms out to me shortly after FMCSA’s introduction of their hours-of-service revisions, which we’re now living under. They intro’d a little wishful thinking in my mind about the ability to legally split sleeper-berth periods to extended the duty day, which ability many longtime drivers look back on fondly — it’s been ten years gone at this point. 

We can get further into some more-flexible sleeper-split wishful thinking, however, with the recent urging FMCSA got from none other than the American Trucking Associations on the issue of split sleep. In the news yesterday, ATA calls for a real-world pilot program to test the effects of split sleep following a laboratory study that showed little to no effects. The National Association of Small Trucking Companies, according to FMCSA, however, had long beat the ATA to the punch on requesting such an examination. It’s already in the works, the agency said.

Many readers were cynical about it all. As wrote Michael Hildebrand on Overdrive‘s Facebook page, “What? A possibility of allowing the driver to use his/her time in a way that may benefit them? I don’t think a government agency will ever allow ordinary people to make commonsense decisions for themselves. We all know inexperienced big government people know best!”

“Sounds to me like some college boys are going to make a lot of money at our expense,” wrote Norman Ott in his comments under yesterday’s story. He’d be right, but there’s at least potential for such a study to work out in drivers’ favor, no matter how much so-called “safety advocacy groups” may well fight any introduction of greater flexibility into sleeper splitting. 

Josh Cronch, also writing on the Facebook page, echoed Ott but took it further, calling out agency backpedaling in light of new research: “Seems to me that they are starting to backstep on all these new hours of service rules they have been putting in place for the last five [and more] years. But now they need to spend money on studies to find out that there was nothing wrong with the rules to begin with. The problem was dispatchers pushing drivers too hard and drivers not having the guts to tell dispatch they were tired or having the brains to stop and sleep.” 

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(Seems to me a good argument for rep Richard Hanna’s hours-rollback bill here, too, eh? The issue there is that a Congressionally-mandated study on real-world effects of the most-recent hours revisions has not been finished, yet the rules are already in effect. By the way, Hanna’s not dropped the issue. Find a news story centered around his visit to a New York trucking company from this week here. A-and would more flexible sleeper splits alleviate some of the parking issues that so plague the highways?

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As it is now, with the rigid 14-hour rule and only a 2 and 8 possible sleeper-berth split, “you have to work your butt off to get anything done,” wrote Paul Bull. “It makes drivers more tired and short-tempered than the old rules.”

Team drivers on high-security, no-stop loads are out there running a constant 2, 8, 8, 2 schedule on hours, and many I’ve talked to would most definitely prefer more options for splitting, I know, too. 

Wishful Thinking is the name some high-school bandmates of mine (way way back in the way-back machine) gave our little record label when we put out a 7-inch single, then a long-player, of some of our music. Sometimes, a little of it, wishful thinking, yields a little success. Long-term, though, you can see where my “musical career,” if you could even call it that, went.

Is there hope for a good outcome here? Tell me in the comments or utilize 530-40-VOICE to leave a message for a future podcast on the split-sleep subject. That’s 530-408-6423. State your name and location and speak your piece. 

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Following find a round-up of other responses to the news of a split-sleep study in process. 

Shawn Knox: If you are a team driver there is no good reason that you cannot split up your driving time. The biggest problems with the new rules is the lack of flexibility. A long-haul driver who drives by himself should have different rules than team drivers. Short-haul drivers in LTL, grain haulers, farmers, and anyone who drives under 150 air miles [from home base] need their own separate rules as well. Most of us can live with the 34-hour restart, but good God get rid of that 1 a.m.-5 a.m. back-to-back rule. That is the dumbest thing of all.

Bryan Manley: They have messed up the hours of service so badly that nobody drives at night anymore. Truck stops are closing their restaurants at night. They are really screwing up this business.

B.J. Mckernon: Why don’t you just leave it to me to know when I need sleep? I’m not trying to go up and down these highways falling asleep.

Billy Fannin: My proposal: base number of hours one can drive on years of experience.

Lawrence Lamson: I love a nap during mid-day, especially after a hard fight with traffic or a good meal. Sometimes you don’t quite get a good night’s rest, and during the day it hits you. [Instead of] doubling up on java to fight it, all you need is a small power nap to boost you.

  • fisherman

    again does anybody that makes any of this ever been in a truck, no bullshit . shorting experience ya thats the answer, thats why for the last eight or nine years its not safe to pass a truck on hyway.everything will be fine soon they will robots. .you get what you pay for. .

  • MercenaryMan

    Why cant someone print out a LEGAL FORM, circulate it nationwide thru truckstops, etc, and let the TRUCKERS vote, and offer input…Doesnt the TRUCKER know whats best for him….and imagine the cost savings, 25,000 bucks for 1 million copies, all with a prestamped and addressed attached…..mailed back to a Auditing firm, who would tally the Yays, Nays and make a general cobncesnes of Opinions, 1-10 of thoughts, etc….give this to the FMCSA….Print in OVERDRIVE….and you have a Factual survey of the TARGET…and you didnt have to spend 2 MILLION dollars on some PHD College dudes who wouldnt understand why anyone wants to SPLIT SLEEP….ya its to easy…..the Boards would never accept it it didnt cost millions…

  • Jery

    Mandated Studies on split sleep time; working the fundamentals…aside from the Officer Stating, “I cant tell if the driver is lying in his logbook…” im not reading about meaningful fundamentals possessing gravity that are being focused on when studying the fundamentals: sample: Leaf Springs…what test exists to determine when the leaf spring has been stressed. (im not referring to a broken leaf spring) (the trained Officer can not determine this by looking. What is That affect on the drivers health. There are little focused studies in Dynamic Inertia regarding health. Next truck part, whats the difference between hydraulic gas shocks vs. nitrogen gas shocks. That difference has to do with vibration and vibration is dynamic inertia…another issue, the difference between steel leaf springs Vs. composite leaf springs. The vibration is greatly reduced using composite leaf springs…OEM Freightliners, (most popular selling heavy truck) are not made using the composite material. again, back to dynamic inertia. Next, truck part. drivers seat…what inspection exist by the Trained Officer to determine the seat is bad. more vibration equals greater dynamic inertia. i.e. the driver, under the new hours of service is forced to seat for many hours and there are no real studies to identify when a part is stress, and what the dynamic inertial affect is on drivers health over this focused driving period of 11 hours. (very hard to endure to not break up the cycle, walk around, sleep I off, and get back into the seat…by split logging. alas, but today, this driving style is illegal. fundamentals…show me the research, because I actually thought about the subject before having an opinion. Annoyed

  • g

    Lawrence Lamson is right…in his comment…sometimes if you sleep 30 min to 1 hour you are refreshed to drive much more safely than swigging coffee and forcing urself to stay awake….cops should BUTT OUT of Our sleep requirements..each driver is different in his requirements..cops need to get a Life and go bother somebody else….what a bunch of ANUSES.

  • g

    a mere truck driver can NOT be on the “Blue Ribbon Panel”….he is only the Guinny Pig to be observed.

  • g

    Be CAREFUL getting near an 18 wheeler..I agree with that…either the driver is an insane criminal Illegal Alien…or a Chinsy cheap recap tire will explode and fly into ur winshield….I actually tell anyone who drives a car to stay as far AWAY froman 18 wheeler as Possible…..they are actually very dangerous…and driven many times by an under qualified nutjob…..or Crazed illegal alien.

  • mousekiller

    My better half and co driver and I used to do the split sleeper. 6 & 6 or 5&5 but it worked for us.We managed to get the job done safely with out a 34 hr restart…. What was that ????. Never heard of it back then. Not behind the wheel long enough to get numb legs, fatigued, or bored or unsafe then back to the bunk and sleep . This worked for us as neither of us require 10 hrs of berth time. We live in the real world the government doesn’t think exists. We get the job done safely, efficiently and with out dangers .
    I generally sleep 5 to 5 1/2 hrs a night and then I am up. Now I sit getting bored until the ten Hrs is up, by then I am beginning to feel fatigued and on the down hill slide to being already in the need of a nap time zone. This is unsafe as one sizes does not fit all. We,, in the good old days of trucking did quite well in getting the job done and we did it with out all this new crap forced upon us today. We stopped when we were tired, we parked to avoid rush hours and reduce the potential accident and heavy traffic, we took naps to stay safe then the DOT was disbanded and the down hill slide began.and today that free thinking individual safety attitude is taken away from us.We made and did all the safety decisions with out penalty or fear of being ticketed as it was all legal.
    OH yeah. The truck stops had real food and real sit down restaurants for us with special seating . “Professional drivers only ”

    Will we ever see those days again? Doubtful ……

  • mousekiller

    For the most part you have a good idea. However, that form would have
    biased questions on it and worded that to the educated auditor it would
    be in favor of NO SPLIT sleeper as it either does not display enough
    positive guide lines or is ignored by the policy makers. Second who is
    going to lay out that Money?? A new toll or tax or fuel price increase
    or some such BS for our”own good.” The flood gates are about to open
    and allow a lot of foreign drivers on our highways and this is not from
    the south. This is not going to make our highways safer but fill the seats
    with new drivers and do the job that we are not allowed to do today.
    The carriers know that the new foreign drivers are not going to stay,
    but last at most 2 years then gone leaving the seat for a new non us
    driver to fill again and this will continue as we the professional leave
    the industry and do other changes, Make career changes or
    retire. In ten years the trucking industry will look nothing
    like it does today or even 25 years ago. Dumpster divers in a semi. The new breed. The new standard setter. The decline of the once proud safe industry and profession.

  • Stormy

    Maybe we would have a chance if we could convince Richard Hanna and Group that Anne Ferro is actually the Grinch that stole Christmas and the new HOS was the main reason that Santa’s helpers weren’t able to get the packages to houses on time…..

    But that phone call to my Rep. should probably begin with “Once Upon a Time…..”

  • Stormy

    And under the continued guidance and “help” we are getting from the government it is only getting worse.

  • Lace Lacey

    Sherwood Foods/McLane load,,, Livonia, MI

    I arrived at receiver early BC I knew I could park here in outside lot and to start my 8hrs,,, i sleep 2 hrs and receiver is banging(I truly mean, with fist, banging) on my sleeper wanting my bills. Then he makes me move inside gate BC “he ain’t walking back out to this lot”.

    I tell him twice my appt is not until 10, then 45 min later knocking wanting my ID(they always want it when you unload here ),,, ½hr later he wants me in dock, again 10am appt. He says “now or not at all”. I comply .

    I went in and talked to dock manager after I was in a dock & he says I’m more than welcome to go back out to lot and park after I’m unloaded but “he don’t care when my appt is,, he is out if my product,, and needs it NOW”. I say my appt is still at 10 and the only reason I’m here is because I need to take my 8° break and sleep, and I can’t move >4 miles or my E-log starts…. he’s pissed now and again he replys “I don’t care” ,& “he’s been driving a truck for 34yrs and he understands the new regulations and if I don’t want to be woke up park at truck stop” , he then tells me the closest one in Ann Arbor 50+ miles away…i again told him I can’t do that with new regulations & elogs, he again told me “he don’t care, he has trks waiting on this product for 30 stores that are out of kfc chicken strips” ….

    This is why elogs and the new hours of service are not working!!!! There is no place to park and instead of sleeping 5½ and getting into a dock&unloaded while taking my 8° break I got 2 hrs of sleep and I cannot leave for 2 more hrs but there is no way I will be able to sleep BC once I’m up I cannot go back to sleep.
    Just my body rhythm.

    I could lay back here in bed and get a headache and feel like crap the rest of the day. I use to take a walk with my dog but now I’m supposed to be IN MY SLEEPER the whole 8 hrs BC someone in Washington says I need 8 consecutive hrs of sleep. (I’ve never slept 8 consecutive hrs in my life,,,, Have you???).

    I don’t blame the receiver I understand he is in a bind and now pissed off at another driver but they don’t care about the drivers safety or need for rest anymore now than they did 20yrs ago when the coyotes ran wild on the road.
    SAN, RN

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