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Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation; Sleeper Berths on Motorcoaches

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Buses Topics:  Federal Highway Administration

Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation; Sleeper Berths on Motorcoaches

Rodney E. Slater (Federal Register)
January 12, 1994


[Federal Register Volume 59, Number 8 (Wednesday, January 12, 1994)]
[Unknown Section]
[Page 0]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 94-738]


[[Page Unknown]]

[Federal Register: January 12, 1994]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Highway Administration

49 CFR Part 393

[FHWA Docket No. MC-93-34]
RIN 2125-AD25

 

Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation; Sleeper 
Berths on Motorcoaches

AGENCY: Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), DOT.

ACTION: Advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM).

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SUMMARY: The FHWA requests public comment on the use and design of 
driver sleeper berths in the motorcoach industry. Existing sleeper 
berth regulations were written with commercial trucks and truck-
tractors in mind. The agency seeks comments on the suitability of these 
regulations for motorcoaches and the possibility of amending them to 
account for design differences between trucks and motorcoaches. This 
action is being taken in response to comments received at the 
motorcoach industry Zero-Base Review hearing held in Miami, Florida, on 
January 20, 1993, and written requests from the motorcoach industry.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before March 14, 1994.

ADDRESSES: All signed, written comments should refer to the docket 
number that appears at the top of this document and must be submitted 
to HCC-10, room 4232, Office of the Chief Counsel, Federal Highway 
Administration, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington DC 20590. All 
comments received will be available for examination at the above 
address from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., e.t., Monday through Friday, 
except legal Federal holidays. Those desiring notification of receipt 
of comments must include a self-addressed stamped postcard or envelope.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Bryan L. Price, Office of Motor 
Carrier Standards, (202) 366-5720, or Mr. Charles Medalen, Office of 
the Chief counsel, (202) 366-1354, Federal Highway Administration, 
Department of Transportation, 400 Seventh Street SW., Washington, DC 
20590. Office hours are from 7:45 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., e.t., Monday 
through Friday, except legal Federal holidays.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On January 20, 1993, the FHWA held a public 
hearing in Miami, FL, as part of our Zero-Base Review of the Federal 
Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) to obtain information, views, 
and opinions from representatives of the motorcoach industry (see 57 FR 
60784). Four out of ten industry representatives who testified at the 
hearing voiced concerns about the suitability of existing sleeper berth 
regulations for motorcoaches. A common theme among those who testified 
on this subject was that the current sleeper berth regulations were 
written specifically for trucks and truck-tractors without considering 
the unique design characteristics of motorcoaches. A complete 
transcript of this hearing is on file and available for review in the 
FHWA docket room under FHWA Docket No. MC-92-33-182.
    Both the American Bus Association and the United Bus Owners of 
America have also indicated to the FHWA that the suitability of 
existing sleeper berth regulations for motorcoaches is a concern of 
their members.
    The FHWA has also received written requests from the motorcoach 
industry to revise the current sleeper berth regulations to account for 
design differences between motorcoaches and trucks. (Copies of these 
letters are included in FHWA Docket No. MC-93-34.)
    In response to these concerns and as part of the FHWA's efforts to 
eliminate unnecessarily design-restrictive regulations, a review of the 
rulemaking history of the current sleeper berth requirements was 
completed. The review indicated that sleeper berths on motorcoaches may 
not have been considered when the existing sleeper berth regulations 
were promulgated.
    In a final rule published on May 15, 1952 (17 FR 4422), the 
Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) revised most of the existing 
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) and created a number 
of new regulations. One new regulation set forth detailed 
specifications for sleeper berths. The rule required that every sleeper 
berth installed in or on a truck or truck-tractor after December 31, 
1952, be located within or immediately adjacent to the cab, or within 
the cargo space of a truck, and be provided with a direct and ready 
means of exit into the driver's compartment (17 FR 4443). These 
requirements are now codified at 49 CFR 393.76(b)(2) and 393.76(c)(1), 
respectively.
    In addition, the regulations also required that any sleeper berth 
which could not meet this standard, in essence those installed on 
trucks or truck-tractors before December 31, 1952, be provided with 
means of communication between the occupant of the berth and the 
driver. The berth also had to be designed, constructed, and maintained 
to provide the occupant, without the assistance of other persons, at 
least two means of ready exit from the motor vehicle. These 
requirements are now codified at 49 CFR 393.76(d) and 393.76(c)(2)(ii), 
respectively.
    Because motorcoach operators rarely used sleeper berths forty years 
ago, the ICC drafted a rule for trucks and truck-tractors. Practices in 
the motorcoach industry have changed, however, and some operators would 
like to use sleeper berths to reduce driver fatigue and to help comply 
with driver's hours of service regulations. The 1952 regulations did 
not address sleeper berths on motorcoaches, nor have any subsequent 
rulemakings done so.
    On July 3, 1970, the FHWA published a final rule relating to seat 
belts and restraint of sleeper berth occupants (35 FR 10859). That rule 
differentiated between trucks and buses with regard to seats, seat belt 
assemblies, and seat belt assembly anchorage requirements, but not with 
regard to sleeper berth restraint requirements.
    Another rule on sleeper berth specifications was published on April 
26, 1974 (39 FR 14710). It amended Sec. 393.76 by increasing the 
minimum interior dimensions required for sleeper berths. The rule 
omitted specific references to trucks and truck-tractors but made no 
substantive changes to adapt the regulation to the different design 
configurations of motorcoaches.
    Available information indicates that many sleeper berths installed 
on motorcoaches today are located in the baggage area. This area is 
modified to allow the doors to be opened from inside the compartment, 
and by adding a mattress, air conditioning, heat, and a means of 
communication with the driver. In order to meet the current requirement 
of Sec. 393.76(c)(1) for direct and ready means of exit from the 
sleeper berth into the driver's seat or compartment, an aperture that 
meets the exit dimensional requirements must be cut into the floor of 
the motorcoach. This reduces the seating capacity of the motorcoach. 
The FHWA would like to know about other motorcoach sleeper berth 
designs which may or may not meet the current requirements of 
Sec. 393.76.
    The FHWA is requesting public comment on the question of whether, 
and if so how, existing sleeper berth regulations should be amended to 
address design differences between motorcoaches and commercial trucks.

Questions

    The FHWA would appreciate comments on the following questions. 
Commenters are also encouraged to discuss any other matters related to 
sleeper berths on motorcoaches which they believe the FHWA should 
address.
    1. Should existing sleeper berth regulations be amended to account 
for design differences between motorcoaches and trucks? If so, what 
changes should be made and why?
    2. What is the current extent of sleeper berth usage within the 
motorcoach industry?
    3. How many motorcoaches have been manufactured with sleeper berths 
as part of their original equipment? How and where are these sleeper 
berths installed? How many comply with Sec. 393.76? How many do not?
    4. How many motorcoaches have been retrofitted with sleeper berths? 
How and where are these sleeper berths installed? How many comply with 
Sec. 393.76? How many do not?
    5. Do after-market changes, such as cutting holes in the floor or 
modifying the cargo compartment, affect the structural integrity of the 
motorcoach?
    6. The FHWA notes that if a driver sleeper berth is located within 
the baggage area and occupied while the motorcoach is in operation, the 
occupant could be vulnerable to a side impact collision. Are special 
requirements needed to ensure the occupants' safety?
    7. If a driver sleeper berth is located in the baggage area of a 
motorcoach, should its location be restricted (e.g., only the forward-
most portion of the baggage area)? If the sleeper berth is used while 
the vehicle is in operation, would having the sleeper berth near the 
rear of the motorcoach subject persons occupying the berth to excessive 
heat, noise, or exhaust?
    8. The current requirements of Sec. 393.76 for a direct and ready 
means of exit from the sleeper berth into the driver's seat or 
compartment may be design-restrictive for motorcoaches. Should the exit 
requirements allow a ready means of exit into the passenger compartment 
of the motorcoach instead of the driver's seat or compartment?
    9. Would separate motorcoach sleeper berth regulations enhance 
motorcoach safety or benefit the motorcoach industry? If yes, how?

Rulemaking Analyses and Notices

    All comments received before the close of business on the comment 
closing date indicated above will be considered and will be available 
for examination in the docket at the above address. Comments received 
after the comment closing date will be filed in the docket and will be 
considered to the extent practical. In addition to late comments, the 
FHWA will also continue to file relevant information in the docket as 
it becomes available after the comment closing date, and interested 
persons should continue to examine the docket for new material.

Executive Order 12866 (Regulatory Planning and Review) and DOT 
Regulatory Policies and Procedures

    The FHWA has determined that this document does not contain a 
``significant regulatory action'' under Executive Order 12866 or a 
``significant'' regulation under the regulatory policies and procedures 
of the DOT. Due to the preliminary nature of this document and lack of 
necessary information on costs, however, the FHWA is unable to evaluate 
the economic impact of potential changes to regulatory requirements 
concerning the use and design of driver sleeper berths in the 
motorcoach industry. Based on the information received in response to 
this notice, the FHWA intends to carefully consider the costs and 
benefits associated with possible amendments to the regulations. 
Comments, information, and data are solicited on the economic impact of 
the potential changes.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    Due to the preliminary nature of this document and lack of 
necessary information on costs, the FHWA is unable to evaluate the 
effects of the potential regulatory changes on small entities. Based on 
the information received in response to this notice, the FHWA intends, 
in compliance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601-612), 
to carefully consider the economic impacts of these potential changes 
on small entities. The FHWA solicits comments, information, and data on 
these impacts.

Executive Order 12612 (Federalism Assessment)

    This action has been analyzed in accordance with the principles and 
criteria contained in Executive Order 12612, and it has been determined 
that this action does not have sufficient federalism implications to 
warrant the preparation of a federalism assessment.

Executive Order 12372 (Intergovernmental Review)

    Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Number 20.217, Motor 
Carrier Safety. The regulations implementing Executive Order 12372 
regarding intergovernmental consultation on Federal programs and 
activities apply to this program.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    This action does not contain a collection of information 
requirement for purposes of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980 (44 
U.S.C. 3501 et seq.)

National Environmental Policy Act

    This agency has analyzed this action for the purpose of the 
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and 
has determined that this action would not have any effect on the 
quality of the environment.

Regulation Identification Number

    A regulatory identification number (RIN) is assigned to each 
regulatory action listed in the Unified Agenda of Federal Regulations. 
The Regulatory Information Service Center publishes the Unified Agenda 
in April and October of each year. The RIN contained in the heading of 
this document can be used to cross reference this action with the 
Unified Agenda.

List of Subjects in 49 CFR Part 393

    Freight transportation, Highway safety, Highways and roads, Motor 
carriers, Motor vehicle safety.

    Authority: 49 U.S.C. app. 2505; 49 U.S.C. 3102; 49 CFR 1.48.

    Issued on January 5, 1994.
Rodney E. Slater,
Federal Highway Administrator.
[FR Doc. 94-738 Filed 1-11-94; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-22-P

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