Over the Road Tandem Trucking
In early 2018, a new federal mandate for truck drivers was added to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Hours of Service Regulations, requiring all truck drivers to use an electronic-logging device. The electronic-logging device automatically records the hours that truck drivers are working, which are sometimes referred to as the hours of service. For truck drivers, this automatic tracking ultimately makes it harder to “fudge” their total hours worked. Before the implementation of the electronic logging device, rules limiting drivers to 11 hours of driving for every 14 hours on the road could easily be ignored or bent. Without that flexibility, many truck drivers and logistic companies are finding that their service costs have increased and that net profit has decreased. Many drivers and logistic companies are now turning to tandem or team driving to help keep their costs lower.
New Hours of Service Regulations
With the addition of the electronic logging device amendment to hours of service rules, truck drivers can find themselves at risk for a major fine or even loss of their commercial driver’s license if they violate the new service rules. While the law was, of course, intended to create safer driving practices and minimize truck driver related accidents on the highways, it has, perhaps, done the opposite of what was intended.
The federal mandate has arguably resulted in unsafe practices, such as “racing against the clock” and other potentially reckless driving habits, that ultimately drive up the costs of services in order to adhere to the stricter hours of service regulations for any given route. The use of “tandem trucking,” otherwise known as “team driving,” has become more prevalent so that truck drivers and logistics companies can adhere to the law, while also keeping their costs down and reducing unsafe driving practices. Having two truck drivers instead of the more typical solo driver allows truckers to complete routes at the same rate as before, all while adhering to the stricter regulations set forth by the FMCSA. Since this law was passed, the job market for team driving has exploded.
The Rise of Team Driving
Tandem or team driving essentially means that instead of one driver making a route with the usual interruptions for sleep or rest, two drivers will do so instead, with a rotating schedule of one driver sleeping while the other drives. The distinct advantage to this approach allows routes to be completed in a timelier manner, while still giving each driver to get the rest they need to drive safely. However, tandem driving has the potential to make the most luxurious sleeper trailers feel cramped.
In a tandem, team driving environment, there is at least one driver, at all times, who is trying to relax and enjoy downtime. The good news for tandem, team drivers is that there are many tractor trailer sleepers that come equipped with both top and bottom bunks. Some sleeper cabins are also spacious enough for a desk and a TV. Unfortunately, the mattresses that come with these bunks are not always supportive or lack in their ability to minimize motion transfer, so it may be worth considering a replacement or upgrade for the factory mattress that comes with the tractor trailer sleeper.
The Best Semi-Truck Mattress
Unfortunately, the options and availability of quality mattresses for tractor trailer sleepers can be limited due to the nearly custom configurations of many over-the-road sleepers. However, SleepDog® Mattress does offer two mattress options – the SleepDog® mattress and the BigDawg Mattress™ – that were specifically engineered to accommodate semi truck drivers and their sleep needs. Both mattresses are available in most standard semi-truck mattress sizes. The BigDawg™ is even available in an exclusive bunk size, measuring 32” wide by 80” long.
2023 Tandem Driving Update
While there have been no new tandem trucking updates or changes to tandem driving regulations in 2023, here are a couple general updates to pay attention to:
- New Automated Driving Systems (ADS)
- Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB)
By integrating new ADS-equipped trucks and other commercial vehicles into previously established fleets, the FMCSA aims to improve safety and security while also increasing consistency regarding ADS-equipped vehicles. Affected operations include inspection, maintenance, and repair.
AEB systems are already highly effective and vital for commercial motor vehicles, but this update standardizes equipment performance to ensure better safety on the road. This particular update only applies to heavy trucks and includes maintenance requirements for AEB systems, such as testing the systems regularly and measuring their performances.
If you’re a truck driver or a company with commercial motor vehicles, it is crucial to stay up to date with the latest changes in rules and regulations. The FMCSA website is the most reliable place for detailed information regarding commercial motor vehicle regulations.