By Dave Osiecki, President of Scopelitis Transportation Consulting & ELD Consultant to PeopleNet
On December 14, 2017, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) posted on the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) portion of its website a proposal to revise longstanding “regulatory guidance” addressing the operation of a CMV for personal use while a driver is off-duty. This issue is commonly called “personal conveyance” or “PC,” and has recently taken on a higher profile (i.e., has resulted in many industry questions to FMCSA) since FMCSA’s ELD rules include a special driving category to capture this off-duty driving time. For this reason, FMCSA has decided to update its PC guidance.
First, it’s important to know that FMCSA’s proposed guidance is a ‘draft’, and cannot be used or relied upon by the industry at this point. While the draft guidance is intended to provide more clarity to the industry on when drivers can legally use the PC driving category on their ELDs, FMCSA is asking for comments and thoughts before finalizing it. The proposed guidance will soon be published in the Federal Register, which will open a 30-day comment window for the industry, and the interested public, to provide input on the proposed changes to the guidance.
Now, to the substance of the proposed guidance. In its proposed guidance, FMCSA tries to focus on the reason the driver is operating a truck while off-duty, “without regard to whether the CMV is or is not laden.” This is a substantial departure from FMCSA’s past guidance on this issue. The Agency’s previous guidance, which was issued in 1997 and required the truck to be unladen, was seemingly written for drivers of combination trucks (i.e., a typical tractor-trailer unit) where the driver could unhook the trailer and use the tractor as a vehicle to drive to a restaurant, a movie, or to grandma’s house. According to FMCSA, this guidance had the unintended effect of not allowing drivers of single-unit work trucks that carry equipment, tools and trade-related materials to use the truck as PC. FMCSA’s proposed guidance would eliminate the requirement that the truck be unladen. The Agency’s proposed guidance also takes what some will likely view as a more user-friendly approach by providing concrete examples of appropriate and inappropriate use of PC. Instead of trying to summarize these examples, the full, proposed guidance is provided immediately below.
“Question: Under what circumstance may a driver operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) as a personal conveyance?
Guidance: A driver may record time operating a CMV for personal conveyance (i.e., for personal use or reasons) as off-duty only when the driver is relieved from work and all responsibility for performing work.
a) Examples of appropriate uses of a CMV while off-duty for personal conveyance include, but are not limited to:
- Time spent traveling from a driver’s en route lodging (such as a motel or truck stop) to restaurants and entertainment facilities and back to the lodging.
- Commuting from the last location where on-duty activity occurred to the driver’s permanent residence and back to that last on-duty location. This would include commuting between the driver’s terminal and his or her residence, between trailer-drop lots and the driver’s residence, and between work sites and his or her residence.
b) Examples of uses of a CMV that would not qualify as personal conveyance include, but are not limited to, the following:
- The movement of a CMV to enhance the operational readiness of a motor carrier. For example, moving the CMV closer to its next loading or unloading point or other motor carrier-scheduled destination, regardless of other factors.
- After delivering a towed unit, and the towing unit no longer meets the definition of a CMV, the driver returns to the point of origin under the direction of the motor carrier in order to pick up another towed unit.
- Continuation of a CMV trip in interstate commerce, even after the vehicle is unloaded. In this scenario, on-duty time does not end until the driver reaches a location designated or authorized by the carrier for parking or storage of the CMV, such as a permanent residence, authorized lodging, or home terminal.
- Bobtailing or operating with an empty trailer to retrieve another load.
- Repositioning a CMV and or trailer at the direction of the motor carrier.
The CMV may be used for personal conveyance even if it is laden, since the load is not being transported for the commercial benefit of the carrier at that time.”
In addition to general comments about the revised guidance language and its approach, FMCSA asks five specific questions about it. You can read FMCSA’s full notice and five questions here.
For additional guidance on all things compliance and ELD, check out our ELD Resource Page.