The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration wants to hear from the trucking industry on its proposed guidance on what the term “yard moves” means.

“Yard moves” occur during the operation of a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) on private property and, with a narrow proposed example, not on public roads. Currently, CMV operators should enter “yard moves” as “on duty/not driving” and not as “driving” time when recording hours of service (HOS). FMCSA does not propose to change that standard but believes that providing examples of “yard moves” will bring clarity to the matter and help HOS compliance.

Regulatory guidance, as FMCSA has proposed here, does not have the force of law. However, examples provided by regulatory guidance can help drivers and motor carriers to apply complex legal standards in real-world situations. In the case of “yard moves,” FMCSA notes that the history of HOS and one other HOS special driving category could foster confusion, unless it provides concrete examples of “yard moves.”

Prior to becoming a separate agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation, trucking was regulated by a part of the Federal Highway Administration. A 1997 compilation of regulatory guidance from that era described “yard moves” as jockeying CMVs in the carrier’s yard and should be recorded as “on duty/driving.” When FMCSA published the minimum performance and design standards for electronic logging devices (ELDs) in 2015, the agency adopted “yard moves” as a special driving category that ELDs must record as “on duty/not driving.” So, CMV drivers using ELDs have been legally and properly entering “yard moves” as “on duty/not driving” ever since, but FMCSA has not proposed to update the regulatory guidance until now.

The timing of this proposed regulatory guidance update is also driven by the other HOS special driving category “personal conveyance.” In the same 2015 ELD rule, FMCSA required ELD manufacturers to allow drivers to record the movement of a CMV to be recorded as “off duty” when the movement is not for the motor carrier, shipper or receiver’s commercial benefit. For example, FMCSA considers the movement of a CMV no farther than the nearest reasonable and safe location to complete a driver’s rest period as “personal conveyance.” A “yard move,” by contrast, may be to a shipper’s loading dock or to a carrier’s maintenance facility, and thus, to their commercial benefit. FMCSA provided extensive guidance on “personal conveyance” and later supplementary guidance.

FMCSA seeks comments on these proposed examples of properties where “yard moves” could occur, specifically asking if it should add other properties or situations, such as moving a CMV for maintenance:

“Examples of properties that may qualify as yards include, but are not limited to:

  1. An intermodal yard or port facility.
  2. A motor carrier’s place of business.
  3. A shipper’s privately-owned parking lot.
  4. A public road, but only if and while public access to the road is restricted through traffic control measures such as lights, gates, flaggers or other means. For example, if a driver must operate on a public road briefly to reach different parts of a private property, the movement may be considered a yard move if public access is restricted during the move.

Examples of properties that do not qualify as yards, include, but are not limited to:

  1. A public road without the traffic control measures in paragraph (a)(4) above.
  2. Public rest areas.”

Comments on the proposal are due by Feb 3, 2021.