The FMCSA is considering easing up on its “personal conveyance” guidelines, and is accepting public comments on the proposed changes until February 20th.

According to current regulations, in order for an off-duty truck driver to use his truck for short, personal travel, such as traveling to a nearby restaurant, the truck must not be pulling a load (unladen).

The proposed changes, however, will remove the requirement for a truck to be unladen, and will allow drivers who are currently loaded to use a personal conveyance.

In issuing today’s proposed revision to the guidance, the Agency focuses on the reason the driver is operating a CMV while off duty, without regard to whether the CMV is or is not laden. The previous guidance, which required the CMV to be unladen, was written for combination vehicles, where the driver could readily detach the trailer and use the unladen tractor for personal conveyance. This interpretation had the inadvertent effect of not allowing drivers of single-unit work trucks that carry loads, as well as tools of trade and related materials, on the power unit to document this off-duty time on the RODS. In the absence of a trailer, these loads, tools, and other equipment cannot reasonably be offloaded, left unattended, and reloaded after the power unit has been used for personal conveyance. This proposed revisision to the guidance eliminates the requirement that the CMV be unladen and thus the disparate impact created by the previous guidance.

To clarify, in their proposal, the FMCSA listed uses that would qualify as personal conveyance.

Examples of appropriate uses of a CMV while off-duty for personal conveyance include, but are not limited to:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Examples of uses of a CMV that would not qualify as personal conveyance include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Bobtailing or operating with an empty trailer to retrieve another load.
  5. Repositioning a CMV and or trailer at the direction of the motor carrier.

The FMCSA summarized the proposed changes by saying, “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.”

The original deadline to comment on the proposed changes was set for January 19th, 2018, however the agency has extended the public comment period through February 20, 2018. You can read the proposal, or submit a public comment, here: Docket ID: FMCSA-2017-0108