The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently released new guidance on driving a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) for personal reasons while off-duty, referred to as “personal conveyance.”

This guidance, effective immediately, offers clarification on when “personal conveyance” can and cannot be used, following guidance the agency issued earlier, plus some welcome relief for drivers delayed at shipper or 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. To be off-duty, the driver must be relieved from work and all responsibility for performing work.

Because the driver is off-duty, there is no impact on the usual HOS limitations. Under personal conveyance, the driver and the motor carrier do remain responsible for the safe operation of the CMV.

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.

Among the 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 – FMCSA guidance now allows drivers nearing or out of hours at a shipper or receiver location to go off-duty and use “personal conveyance” to reach the nearest, safe rest location. 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 – FMCSA guidance now allows CMV to be laden when used for personal conveyance. That change specifically allows straight trucks 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 or 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 limitations that may be more restrictive than this 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.

The full FMCSA guidance on “personal conveyance” can be found on the agency’s website.