What Makes a Mattress DOT Approved?
You might have read or heard that your truck mattress needs to be DOT (Department of Transportation) approved, but what does this mean exactly when it comes to your sleeper? How can you be sure your aftermarket truck mattress is DOT approved?
What the Law Says
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration established the following requirements that a sleeper bed must meet in order to be DOT approved:
- In terms of dimensions and size, a sleeper berth must be at least the following size (if installed on the motor vehicle after September 1975 75 inches (length measured on centerline of longitudinal axis) X 24 inches (width measured on centerline of transverse axis) X 24 inches (height measured from highest point of top of mattress) (75” x 24” x 24”). If your sleeper bed utilizes an adjustable mechanical suspension system, measure the height once the system has been adjusted to what it would be when occupied by a driver.
- In terms of shape, the bed must be of generally rectangular shape, except that the horizontal corners and the roof corners may be rounded to radii not exceeding 101⁄2 inches.
- As for access, the sleeper berth must be constructed so that an occupant’s entrance to and exit from the berth is not “unduly hindered”. It must not be installed in/on a semitrailer or a full trailer other than a house trailer. A sleeper berth located within the cargo space of a vehicle must be securely compartmentalized from the remainder of the cargo space. It must be located in the cab or immediately adjacent to the cab and must be securely fixed with relation to the cab. There must be a direct way to exit from the sleeper berth into the driver’s seat or compartment. This exit must be a doorway or opening at least 18 inches high and 36 inches wide.
- A sleeper berth that is not located within the driver’s compartment and does not have a direct entrance into the driver’s compartment must be equipped with a means of communication between the occupant and the driver. The means of communication may consist of a telephone, buzzer, or other mechanical or electrical device.
- The bed must be properly equipped for sleeping. Its equipment must include bedclothing, blankets; and either springs and a mattres, an innerspring mattress, a cellular rubber or flexible foam mattress at least four inches thick; or a mattress filled with a fluid and of sufficient thickness that when filled it prevents ‘‘bottoming-out’’ while the vehicle is in motion.
- A sleeper bed must provide adequate ventilation and must protect against dust and rain.
- It must also protect against exhaust, fuel leaks, and exhaust heat. The location of the bed must also prevent overheating or damages because of proximity to the vehicle’s exhaust system.
- A motor vehicle manufactured on or after July 1, 1971, and equipped with a sleeper bed must have a way of preventing ejection of the occupant of the sleeper during deceleration of the vehicle. This restraint system must be designed and maintained to withstand a minimum total force of 6,000 lbs. applied toward the front of the vehicle and parallel to the longitudinal axis of the vehicle.
- If a compartment in a CMV (Commercial Motor Vehicle) is no longer used as a sleeper bed, you do not have to maintain it equipped as such.
In a nutshell, the sleeper class must:
- Be a minimum of 75” long, 24” wide, and have at least 24” from the top of mattress to the ceiling.
- Have easy access to and from the driver’s compartment (including an exit and a way of communication with the driver)
- Be compartmentalized away from the freight area.
- Be rectangular in shape.
- Have adequate ventilation and be isolated from the exhaust fumes.
- Be properly equipped for sleeping.
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Annual Update: 2023
The DOT occasionally updates its requirements for approval based on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s regulations. These regulations can be found in Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations. According to the Code’s website, title 49 was confirmed to be accurate and up-to-date as of May 31, 2023. So far, there have been no notable changes to the regulations regarding mattresses or sleeper berths this year.
Frequently Asked Questions
What makes a sleeper berth DOT approved?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration established several requirements that a sleeper must meet in order to be DOT approved. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Rectangular in shape
- The bed must be properly equipped for sleeping. This means the bed must include a mattress, sheets, and blankets. SleepDog® truck and RV mattresses are DOT approved.
- Access must not be “unduly hindered”
- Must have adequate ventilation
- Must protect against fuel leaks, exhaust heat, dust, and rain
What is considered a sleeper berth?
A sleeper berth, often referred to as a sleeper is a compartment in a semi truck that allows drivers to rest within the privacy of their own truck during hauls. All sleeper berths must meet certain size, shape, and accessibility requirements.
What are the dimensions of a sleeper berth?
Can you do a 5/5 sleeper berth split?
Yes, a 5/5 sleeper berth split can actually increase the driver’s quality of sleep at night and awareness during the day. Drivers can split their time in the sleeper between multiple time periods, but none of these rest periods can measure less than two hours in length. Examples of sleeper birth splits can include 8/2, 7/3, or 5/5.