It could take a year for the pilot proposal to wind through the agency’s administrative process, gain White House approval, and for officials to recruit as many as 200 truck drivers to participate, Walker said.
The drivers ideally would be a mix of independent operators and come from small, medium and large motor carriers, Walker said.
The so-called flexible sleeper berth pilot project would allow drivers to split their eight hours of sleep into at least two periods, Walker said. That, for example, would allow drivers to take two-hour daytime naps that would not count against their 14-hour allowable daily work time.
Before the pilot can begin, agency researchers will need to assemble a peer review group on methodology, and then determine whether drivers can split their sleep any way they want or whether it will be in required two-to-four hour blocks or two four-hour periods, Walker said.
Prior to 2005, federal regulations had for decades permitted drivers to split their rest in sleeper berths. However, since then solo and team drivers have not been allowed to split rest except in very rare instances.
“The concern has been that when drivers get tired they want the ability to pull over and not have it count against the 14-hour clock,” Walker said.
Previous laboratory research has tested the premise that greater flexibility in truck driver sleep time may result in improved safety outcomes by improving or sustaining driver alertness.
Source: Transport Topics