Is it legal to log waiting time as sleeper time, as some carriers suggest?
Well... How’s this for a straight answer: sometimes.
Assuming that you’re in the sleeper, sleeping, during the time you spend waiting, it’s perfectly legal. If, on the other hand, you’re digging into the load with gloved hands, or restacking pallets, but logging that time as sleeper time, then no, it’s not legal. There are a pile of distinctions to be made here, but the primary factor in determining if that time can be spent as sleeper time is whether or not you are physically in the bunk.
Logging some of that waiting time as off-duty time is a fairly common practice, but there is a determining factor there as well. The DOT defines off-duty as time where the driver has been relieved of responsibility for the truck and the load, and the driver must be free to pursue some activity of his or here own choosing. Technically, I suppose if you choose to spend several hours at a shipper’s dock, waiting to be unloaded, then it’s still legal. But if it’s required that you hang around, then no, it’s not legal to log the time as off-duty time.
Nor can you log sleeper time for the hours you spent stuck in traffic every day. The DOT defines all time spent behind the wheel as driving time, even if the truck isn’t moving.
So much for the facts. The issue that you raise is an interesting one, and one that costs individual drivers thousands of dollars every year.
Let’s assume that you spend 20 hours a week ‘sitting around’ waiting. Basically this is official business and should be logged as on-duty time, according to the DOT. But since that idle time takes away from your driving time, and your earning time, it’s sensible to make that time go away in order to preserve it for more profitable endeavors, like putting on some miles.
However, if, and its a big if, you were paid, say $10 per hour for all that sitting time, 20 hours a week multiplied by 50 weeks a year equals 1000 hours. Now multiply that 1000 hours by $10 p/h and you’re looking at $10,000 dollars a year that you voluntarily give up just so that you can run the same miles you’d get if the company got on the phone and told the shipper to get your truck the hell away from their loading dock.
Thus endest Economics for Truckers 101.