Sleeper Berth §395.1(g)

The federal hours-of-service regulations say that upon reaching either the driving or on–duty limits, a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) driver is required to be off duty for at least 8 consecutive hours (for passenger-carrying CMVs) or 10 consecutive hours (for property-carrying CMVs) before he/she can resume driving. Though this off-duty requirement is rigid, those who have access to a sleeper berth have other options.

Instead of going “off duty,” drivers using CMVs equipped with sleeper berths can get their required rest by:

  1. Entering the sleeper for 8-10 consecutive hours (EXAMPLE 1);

  2. Obtaining 8-10 consecutive hours of rest using a combination of off-duty and sleeper-berth time (EXAMPLE 2); or

  3. Obtaining the “equivalent” of 8-10 hours of rest in two separate, non-consecutive breaks (EXAMPLE 3).

Under option #2, the rest periods must be consecutive and not broken by any on–duty or driving activities.

Though perhaps the most confusing of all hours-of-service rules, option #3 (also known as the “split sleeper” option) can be especially valuable for a team of drivers on a long haul, or when flexibility is required. By using this option, a driver and co–driver team can keep their rig rolling right up to the time they reach their 60- or 70-hours-of-service limit.

To use the split-sleeper option, drivers must understand the strict rules, which differ depending on whether the operation involves passengers or property. The remainder of this document will focus on the use of the split-sleeper option.

Be aware that to use any of the above options, the driver must use a qualifying sleeper berth. A “qualifying” or “regulation” sleeper berth is a sleeper berth that complies with 49 CFR §393.76, Sleeper Berths. You can only record sleeper-berth time on a log grid (Line 2) if the sleeper complies with that regulation.

Property-Carrying CMVs

Drivers of property-carrying CMVs have fewer options for using the sleeper berth than they did prior to 2005. Before October of that year, drivers could use a “5 on, 5 off” or similar pattern to break up their driving and off-duty time, or they could take a 2-hour nap that could “extend” their 14-hour day. Today, the rules are much more strict, which has caused many drivers to avoid the split-sleeper option altogether.

To use option #3 and accumulate the “equivalent” of 10 consecutive hours off duty using a sleeper berth:

Beginning February 27, 2012, if a driver spends up to 2 hours in the passenger seat of a moving commercial motor vehicle immediately before or after spending 8 consecutive hours in a sleeper berth, that passenger-seat time can be logged as "off duty" and will be excluded from the 14-hour calculation. If the sleeper-berth time and this passenger-seat time add up to 10 hours or more, then the driver will have a valid 10-hour break. If a driver spends more than 2 hours in the passenger seat of a moving vehicle, the time beyond 2 hours must be logged as "on duty" time.

After June 30, 2013, a driver will only be able to continue driving if 8 or fewer hours have passed since the driver's last last off-duty or sleeper-berth break of at least 30 minutes.

Before we look at some examples, note that, for a driver using this option:

Single-driver example: EXAMPLE 4

In this example, the driver started out on Day 1 by driving for 5 hours and then entering the sleeper berth for 8 hours. Because this 8-hour sleeper-berth period is excluded from the 14-hour calculation, he/she could continue driving until reaching the 11-hour limit at 7:00 p.m. on Day 1. In order to do more driving, the driver has a choice to make:

  1. He/she can go off duty and/or in the sleeper berth for 10 consecutive hours. This would provide a full 11 available hours of driving time within a 14-hour period.

  2. Because he/she already had an 8-hour sleeper-berth period, the driver can choose to go off duty and/or in the sleeper berth for just 2 hours. This would allow the driver to return to driving sooner, but would limit the number of hours the driver has available.

The driver in this example chose the latter option: 2 hours off. By 9:00 p.m. on Day 1, the driver has accumulated the necessary 10 hours off using two separate, qualifying breaks (8 hours + 2 hours). How much driving time is now available?

The driver must calculate compliance from the end of the first qualifying break, or 1:00 p.m. on Day 1. Under the 11-hour rule, he/she drove for 6 hours, so there are 5 hours remaining as of 9:00 p.m. Under the 14-hour rule, he/she was on duty for 6 hours and went off duty for 2 hours, so there are 6 hours remaining as of 9:00 p.m.

The driver drove for another 5 hours (hitting the 11-hour limit) and then entered the sleeper berth for another 9 hours, giving him/her another pair of qualifying breaks (2 hours + 9 hours). How much driving time is available at 11:00 a.m. on Day 2?

The driver must calculate compliance from the end of the first of the latest two qualifying breaks, or 9:00 p.m. on Day 1. After that point, the driver spent 5 hours driving, and therefore has 6 hours driving time available (11-5=6) within a 9-hour window (14-5=9).

After driving another 6 hours, the driver chose to go off duty for 7 hours to end Day 2. At midnight on Day 2, the driver is at the 13th on-duty hour (6 hours driving + 7 hours off), so he/she could drive for 1 more hour or, to obtain a full allowance of driving time, remain off duty another 3 hours, for a total of 10 consecutive hours off duty.

Team example: EXAMPLE 5

Though single drivers using the sleeper-berth option have to stop the vehicle to get their required rest breaks, driving teams can keep their vehicles moving.

In theory at least, a team can maximize its use of the sleeper-berth option by having each driver, in turn, drive for 8 hours, sleep for 8 hours, drive another 3 hours, and then spend 3 hours in a sleeper berth and/or of duty. That way, each driver in the team can obtain 11 hours of driving within a 14-hour period and still get 10 hours of rest.

Here’s how it works. (Numbers in parentheses below refer to circled numbers on the sample logs.)

How do we determine how many hours each driver has available after finishing a break? Keep these basic rules in mind:

Now let’s go back to our graphs and review driver #1. At 11:00 p.m. on Day 1 (3), the driver has completed the required 10 hours off in two rest breaks. We can now ignore the time spent before the first break (1:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.) and start counting at 5:00 p.m., the end of the first break. That’s why at 11:00 p.m., he/she has 8 hours of driving time available (11 minus the 3 hours spent driving in between the two sleeper periods) within an 8-hour window (14 hours minus the 3 hours driving and the 3 hours in the sleeper). In this case, the 3-hour sleeper period counts against the driver’s 14-hour limit, because it is less than 8 hours.

After driving another 8 hours, the driver enters the sleeper for another 8 hours, until 3:00 p.m. on Day 2. Now we have another combination of rest breaks that makes 10 hours (period #2 + period #3), so at 3:00 p.m. on Day 2 we can ignore everything that happened before the end of the first of those two rest periods. We start counting at 11:00 p.m. on Day 1 and find that the driver has used 8 out of 11 hours of driving and 8 out of 14 hours of duty time (the 8 hours in the sleeper are excluded). So the driver has 3 hours of driving time available within a 6-hour window.

Calculations for driver #2 are handled the same way. Note, however, that the 8-hour sleeper period on Day 1 does NOT count as one of the two required rest breaks for this driver, because it is part of a larger 10-hour off-duty period.

I Need a Break!

The sample logs provided above present a theoretical situation where the drivers are able to maximize their driving time. In the real world, drivers are not machines, and most will not be able to drive for 8 hours without stopping for food, fuel, bathroom breaks, etc. Drivers, motor carriers, and dispatchers will have to work together to develop a route plan that works for their particular needs while allowing time for personal and vehicular necessities. For example, a driver facing 8 solid hours of driving may be able to stop every few hours while the co-driver stays in the sleeper berth, or both drivers may be able to enter a truck stop at the same time before trading places.

After June 30, 2013, a driver will only be able to continue driving if 8 or fewer hours have passed since the driver's last last off-duty or sleeper-berth break of at least 30 minutes.

Extending the Day

Note that an 8-hour sleeper period is always excluded from the 14-hour calculation, even if it is not combined with a later (or previous) 2-hour break. After 10 hours off, a driver could, for example, drive for 6 hours, sleep in a sleeper berth for 8 hours, and then drive another 5 hours. After the 5 hours of driving, the driver could either go off duty for 10 hours or, if he/she needed to return to driving, go off duty for just 2 hours. Either way, the 8-hour sleeper period will extend the driver’s 14-hour day by 8 hours.

Beginning February 27, 2012, if a driver spends up to 2 hours in the passenger seat of a moving commercial motor vehicle immediately before or after spending 8 consecutive hours in a sleeper berth, that passenger-seat time can be logged as "off duty" and will be excluded from the 14-hour calculation. If the sleeper-berth time and this passenger-seat time add up to 10 hours or more, then the driver will have a valid 10-hour break. If a driver spends more than 2 hours in the passenger seat of a moving vehicle, the time beyond 2 hours must be logged as "on duty" time and will count against the 14-hour limit.

Passenger-Carrying CMVs

The driver of a passenger-carrying commercial motor vehicle cannot drive for more than 10 hours following 8 consecutive hours off duty. In addition, a driver cannot drive after accumulating 15 hours on duty after an 8-consecutive-hour break. A driver using the sleeper-berth option may accumulate the equivalent of 8 consecutive hours off duty by taking 2 periods of rest in the sleeper berth. Neither of the sleeper-berth periods may be less than two hours, and the on-duty time in the period immediately before and after each rest period, when added together, cannot include any driving time after the 15th hour. This on-duty calculation does not include any off-duty or sleeper-berth time.

5 & 4 / 5 & 5

The “ideal” use for an individual driver is 5 hours driving and 4 hours in the sleeper berth followed by another 5 driving and 4 in the sleeper berth. Thus with 2 periods of 4 hours each in the sleeper berth, the 8-hour off-duty requirement has been satisfied.

For a team operation, theoretically, all the drivers have to do is alternate 5 hours driving and 4 hours in the sleeper berth, but that doesn't allow for fueling, meal stops, etc. So let's look at the graphs of two drivers.

Sleeper Berth Periods: EXAMPLE 6

Here’s how it works (NOTE: numbers in parentheses refer to circled numbers in diagram):

Available Driving Time Following Sleeper-Berth Periods

A word of caution concerning available driving time following the second sleeper-berth period. It is not 10 hours, but rather 10 hours minus the driving time between the two sleeper-berth periods.

For example: A driver drives for 6 hours, goes into the sleeper berth for 4 hours, drives another 4 hours (the maximum allowed), and then goes into the sleeper for 4 hours. Upon completion of the second sleeper-berth period, the driver can now drive for only 6 hours (10 - 4 = 6), and this continues to be true following each sleeper-berth period until the driver has 8 consecutive hours off duty.

Available On-Duty Time Following Sleeper-Berth Periods

As with driving time, a driver using the sleeper berth does not have 15 hours of on-duty time available after the second sleeper-berth period. Rather, the driver has 15 hours minus the time spent between the two sleeper-berth periods. While the 10-hour driving calculation only includes driving time, the 15-hour calculation includes all driving and on-duty time, but not sleeper-berth or off-duty time.