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What is the sleeper berth provision?

The last thing that you want to encounter on the road in Monmouth County is a fatigued truck driver. Fortunately, federal guidelines have been enacted that prevent drivers from working long hours to help limit the chances of them becoming fatigued. However, their application is not always uniform. If, for example, a truck is equipped with a sleeper berth, its driver is allowed to adhere to a policy known as the sleeper berth provision. 

Typically, truck drivers cannot drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after having spent 10 consecutive hours off duty. They must take a rest period of at least 30 minutes. Breaks taken within the 14 hours after having come back on duty do not restart the 14-hour period. They may, however, if spent in a sleeper berth. Say a driver has driven for a few hours after coming on duty in the morning. He or she then stops and spends eight hours in his or her sleeper berth (either sleeping or just resting). According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, once he or she resumes driving, the 14-hour period in which he or she can drive restarts (he or she may still only drive whatever hours are remaining to reach the 11-hour allotment allowed after a 10-hour off duty period). 

What does this mean if you are involved in a truck accident? If, after examining the records of the truck driver that struck you, it is shown he or she was driving beyond that 14-hour time limit, he or she may escape liability if he or she follows the sleeper berth provision. One thing to remember, however, is that the sleeper berth provision is only valid if a truck does indeed have a sleeper berth, and even then only if that berth meets federal safety regulations. 

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