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Truckers Sleeper Berth Rule


When it comes to writing the various regulations for professional truckers, it can be quite confusing to say the least.   What looks good on paper for some, appears as complete chaos to those responsible for abiding by the rules.  The current HOS hours of service rules consist of an “up-dated” version of the former sleeper berth rule for truck drivers.  It can be so confusing, that many truckers have simply stopped using this regulation.

The new 8/2 sleeper berth rule came into affect when independent studies showed that a professional driver is more awake and alert after receiving at least eight hours of non-interrupted sleep.  The study argued that when drivers lay down in the sleeper for three hours or five hours at a time, and then begin driving again, the human body simply cannot achieve the proper rest needed.  Therefore, the old rule was thrown out and the newer 8/2 rule became law.  The problem here, is that no consideration was taken that each and every individual is different.  While one driver can perform safely with only five hours of sleep, another may need eight or ten hours of rest,  while yet another can do just fine with only three hours . . . always based on each of our own biological clock.   By grouping all drivers into the same category, the 8/2 hour sleeper berth rule has caused more problems than solutions.

Along with this new rule, many drivers and trucking companies alike, are finding themselves in violation of Federal Regulations by simply quoting the regulations and not fully understanding them.  Furthermore, there is every reason to understand why so many are having this problem, based on how the rule is written in the Federal Regulations under Part 395.1 :

(g) Sleeper berths. (1) Property-carrying commercial motor vehicle.— (i) In General. A driver who operates a property-carrying commercial motor vehicle equipped with a sleeper berth, as defined in §§395.2 and 393.76 of this subchapter,

(g)(1)(i)(A) Must, before driving, accumulate

(1) At least 10 consecutive hours off duty;

(2) At least 10 consecutive hours of sleeper-berth time;

(3) A combination of consecutive sleeper-berth and off-duty time amounting to at least 10 hours; or

(4) The equivalent of at least 10 consecutive hours off duty if the driver does not comply with paragraph (g)(1)(i)(A)(1), (2), or (3) of this section;

(g)(1)(i)(B) May not drive more than 11 hours following one of the 10-hour off-duty periods specified in paragraph (g)(1)(i)(A)(1) through (4) of this section; and

(g)(1)(i)(C) May not drive after the 14th hour after coming on duty following one of the 10-hour off-duty periods specified in paragraph (g)(1)(i)(A)(1)–(4) of this section; and

(g)(1)(i)(D) Must exclude from the calculation of the 14-hour limit any sleeper berth period of at least 8 but less than 10 consecutive hours.

(g)(1)(ii) Specific requirements.— The following rules apply in determining compliance with paragraph (g)(1)(i) of this section:

(g)(1)(ii)(A) The term “equivalent of at least 10 consecutive hours off duty” means a period of

(1) At least 8 but less than 10 consecutive hours in a sleeper berth, and

(2) A separate period of at least 2 but less than 10 consecutive hours either in the sleeper berth or off duty, or any combination thereof.

(g)(1)(ii)(B) Calculation of the 11-hour driving limit includes all driving time; compliance must be re-calculated from the end of the first of the two periods used to comply with paragraph (g)(1)(ii)(A) of this section.

(g)(1)(ii)(C) Calculation of the 14-hour limit includes all time except any sleeper-berth period of at least 8 but less than 10 consecutive hours; compliance must be re-calculated from the end of the first of the two periods used to comply with the requirements of paragraph (g)(1)(ii)(A) of this section.

Right . . . that explains everything.  The sleeper berth rule has become such a problem for drivers, that many have just stopped using it altogether.  Unless you fully understand how it works, this would be the best thing a driver and company could do in order to prevent violations of this kind.   I’m no expert on this regulation, but I thought I would try to give a clearer understanding of how this 8/2 sleeper berth rule works, especially for the newcomers to the industry.

The only legal way to split your time in the sleeper,  is by using the 8/2 split, divided up in two separate time sections.   You can no longer use split times of  7/3, 6/4,  5/5 or so forth.  You are still limited to 11 hours of driving within a 14 hour window.   I think one misconception that is causing a lot of drivers to go into violation, is thinking that the 8/2 split EXTENDS the 14 hour clock … it does not.

8/2 Sleeper Berth Rule

Using the two examples above:

On 2-12-10, after you take your 10 hour break, you do the required pre-trip and start driving at 1:15  a.m.   You drive for 5 hours and at 6:15 a.m. you go in the sleeper for 2 hours waiting for your appointment time at the receiver.  At 8:15  a.m. you go on duty not driving for 2 hours to unload the trailer . . . then at 10:15 am. you go back into the sleeper for the remaining 8 hours . . . So you get your 10 hour break in from 6:15 a.m. to 8:15  a.m.  and from 10:15  a.m. to 6:15  p.m.  Between these two breaks you did not drive, you only unloaded the trailer between 8:15  a.m.  and 10:15  a.m.

At 6:15  p.m.,  at the end of the 8 hour break, you can now drive for another 11 hours, but you only have 11.75  hours left on the 14 hour clock to do it in, taking into consideration the 15 minute pre-trip inspection.  Where drivers are getting in violation, is believing that the 14 hour clock re-started all over again from 6:15  a.m. , where you took your first 2 hour break.   Not so . . . because the 2 hours spent unloading the trailer between 8:15  a.m.  and 10:15  a.m.  DOES NOT STOP THE 14 HOUR CLOCK.

So, at 6:15  p.m. , when you come out of the sleeper berth from the straight 8 hours, you may be thinking that since you got the 10 hours in, without driving in-between, you now have another 14 hours . . . but the 2 hours spent unloading between 8:15  a.m.  and 10:15  a.m,.  still counts toward the new 14 hour window that your working towards . . .  so, you only have 11.75  hours left out the new 14 to run another 11 hours if you want to.

So the next day, on 2-13-10, you complete a straight 11 hours of driving.  In this example, you go off duty from 5:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., taking the full 10 hours of required time off.  Naturally, you have another 14 hour window and you do the required pre-trip and drive until 8:45 p.m., take two hours in the sleeper from 8:45 p.m. to 10:45 p.m.,  and at 10:45 p.m., basically starting the whole 8/2 process all over again.

There are many variables to utilizing the 8/2 sleeper berth rule and this is just one example.   Team drivers can use the concept as well, as long as they fully understand that the drivers’ logbooks  must match each other, thus the term “team.”

The main concept to remember is that, technically, there is no extending the 14 hour clock.  Also, the two hours spent in the sleeper for the 8/2 rule does not stop the clock.  Only the eight hours of consecutive time spent in the sleeper will stop the 14 hour clock.  Even then, the term “stop” is loosely used.

© 2010 – 2011, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.

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By: Allen Smith

Allen Smith is a 37 year veteran who started at an early age in a household goods family moving business. He began driving straight trucks in 1977 and moved to the big rigs in 1982. His experience within the industry includes; owner operator, company driver, operations manager, and owner of a long distance HHG moving business, taking many of the long haul moves himself when needed. Allen Smith, a truck driver advocate who is driven by the desire to help others succeed within an industry where injustice, unrewarded sacrifice, and lack of respect and recognition exists. Allen and his wife Donna are hosts of Truth About Trucking ”Live” on Blog Talk Radio. Other websites include AskTheTrucker, TruckingSocialMedia, NorthAmericanTruckingALerts, TruthAboutTrucking, and many Social Media websites. In 2011 Allen and Donna hosted the first Truck Driver Social Media Convention, designed to create unity and solutions for the trucking industry. This is now being extended through the North American Trucking Alerts network as those within the industry join forces for the betterment of the industry. Allen strongly supports other industry advocates who are also stepping up to the plate to help those who share honesty, guidance and direction. He believes that all those involved in trucking need to be accountable for their part within the industry, including drivers, carriers, brokers, shippers, receivers, etc… The list of supporters and likeminded people grow daily, networking together and sharing thoughts and ideas for the betterment of trucking. He has coined the popular phrase "Raising the standards of the trucking industry"

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2 Responses to Truckers Sleeper Berth Rule. - Post a Comment

  1. Tommy Calderon

    Why would you have to deduct the two hours of on duty but not driving 8:15-10:15 from the new 14?

  2. richard Martin

    I have a question about the pre and post trip inspections when using split sleeper. I was told that when you stopped and went to sleeper berth for 8 hrs that you just went straight to the sleeper with no post trip inspection at that time because you are not ending the day you are extending the day I have been written up twice by my “safety person” for no post trip inspection. WHAT IS THE RULE ON THIS???? I usually do a pretrip inspection after the 8 hrs in sleeper. I am not sure if that is required either. any training or illustrations on websites including fmcsa. they never show on duty not driving for any of the logs. please let me know. thank you

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