Turn Signals – Issue 69
Reminder: The week of Sunday, July 15th through Saturday, July 21st has been chosen by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance for this year’s Operation Safe Driver Week. Highway enforcement officers across North America will be monitoring the drivers of all vehicles, including automobiles, for traffic violations. Speeding and failure to use seat belts are prime targets, along with following too closely and improper lane changes.
In June the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration revised its 20-year old guidance concerning the off-duty driving of commercial motor vehicles (CMV). This activity is known as “Personal Conveyance”. As always, to log driving as off-duty the driver must be “relieved from work and all responsibility for performing work for the motor carrier.” It is no longer required that the truck be “unladed” – It can now be carrying cargo or have work tools or equipment onboard. Here are the five general categories applicable to heavy trucks when driving a CMV can be logged as Personal Conveyance:
- Commuting between a driver’s residence and (1) his reporting terminal, (2) a trailer drop lot, or (3) a work site – (Note: “Work site” has not been defined by FMCSA)
- Traveling between an “en route lodging”, such as a truck stop, and restaurants and entertainment facilities – Going for in-cab food supplies at Wal-Mart would be OK
- Traveling from a customer facility to the nearest “reasonable, safe location” for the driver to take his required 10-hour rest –
- It is not required that the driver be out of driving hours to log this travel as off-duty
- If the nearest rest facility has no available parking, the driver must note this fact in his log before proceeding to the next nearest facility
- The driver cannot use this provision for a required 30-minute break or any off-duty time less than 10 hours, except for a split sleeper berth rest
- Moving a CMV during off-duty time at the direction of a law enforcement officer.
- Transporting personal property in the CMV
What other considerations should motor carriers make about the use of Personal Conveyance? First, trucking companies can decide which various types of CMV driving may be logged as off-duty, place limits such as time used or distance traveled, or even disallow all uses of Personal Conveyance. It is also important that carriers monitor off-duty driving because drivers must still obtain “the required restorative rest as to ensure the driver is not fatigued.” For example, a driver commuting to his home 200 miles away and returning to work 10 hours later is clearly not rested for a new shift. Drivers must be instructed that driving for maintenance activities such as mechanic work or for truck fueling is not off-duty time and will break a 10-hour rest or a 34-hour restart.
Not every circumstance can be covered by the FMCSA guidance. Troopers will sometimes have an opinion that the driver is not eligible to be driving as off-duty. It is important that the driver knows how to explain the situation. Train your drivers to note in their log the reason why Personal Conveyance was used. Overall, here’s the best to rule to follow: If the truck is being driven for the commercial benefit of the motor carrier, it is NOT personal conveyance and the driver’s log or ELD should be on the driving line.
Published by Nicholas Wingerter and TRUCK SAFETY
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