The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has just released new guidance on driving a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) for personal reasons while off-duty, referred to as “personal conveyance.” The new guidance, effective immediately, offers clarification on when “personal conveyance” can and cannot be utilized, plus some welcome relief for drivers delayed at shipper/receiver locations. Here is what you need to know.
There remain four Hours of Service (HOS) categories: 1) on-duty not driving, 2) driving, 3) sleeper berth, and 4) off-duty. Personal conveyance is considered a “special driving category” to account for the movement of a CMV while the driver is off-duty, category 4). To be off-duty, the driver must be relieved from work and from all responsibility for performing work.
Because using the CMV for personal conveyance occurs while the driver is off-duty, there is no impact on the usual HOS limitations. However, the driver and the motor carrier do remain responsible for the safe operation of the CMV while operating under personal conveyance.
With the driver relieved from work, personal conveyance is intended for… personal reasons. That is, personal conveyance cannot be used for the carrier’s commercial or business purposes or to enhance “operational readiness,” such as repositioning equipment.
Examples given for appropriate uses of a CMV while off-duty for personal conveyance are:
• Travel to en route lodging, restaurants, entertainment.
• Commuting between home and the driver’s terminal or work sites (FMCSA cautions that drivers must still have time for restorative rest)
• Movement while off-duty as directed by a safety official
• NEW –drivers nearing or out of hours at a shipper or receiver location may go off-duty and use “personal conveyance” to reach the nearest, safe rest location.
o A word of caution: the guidance also says that a driver who has been put out-of-service by an enforcement officer for exceeding HOS cannot use “personal conveyance” to drive to another rest location unless so directed by the officer.
• NEW – A CMV may be laden when used for personal conveyance. This specifically allows straight trucks and power units hauling loaded trailers to be used for personal conveyance.
The FMCSA guidance also includes examples of what would not qualify as personal conveyance, including time spent traveling from a shipper/receiver location to the driver’s terminal or travel to a maintenance facility, both of those being business purposes. FMCSA also cautions against off-duty movement beyond the nearest, safe rest location.
Motor carriers can establish personal conveyance policies that may be more restrictive than FMCSA’s guidance. For example, a motor carrier may place a distance limit on the personal conveyance use of its equipment or may prohibit off-duty movement while the CMV is laden.
As with any off-duty movement of a CMV, the driver should annotate the HOS records to show the reason and use of the CMV for personal conveyance. The recent FMCSA ELD rule requires all ELDs to have the capability for a driver to enter the “personal conveyance” mode while off-duty and make those annotations.
The full FMCSA guidance on “personal conveyance” can be found at https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/docs/regulations/404421/cmv-personal-conveyance-regulatory-guidance.pdf