Congress and the Department of Transportation are working to provide companies operating truck fleets some additional flexibility in complying with the driver hours of service regulations.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued guidance that liberalizes the rules for using a commercial motor vehicle as a “personal conveyance.” The new guidance allows a driver to record time operating a CMV for personal conveyance (i.e., for personal use or reasons) as off-duty when the driver is relieved from work and all responsibility for performing work by the motor carrier, even when the CMV is laden.
The FMCSA added that motor carriers can establish personal conveyance limitations either within the scope of, or more restrictive than, this guidance, such as banning use of a CMV for personal conveyance purposes, imposing a distance limitation on personal conveyance or prohibiting personal conveyance while the CMV is laden.
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.
- 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.
- Time spent traveling to a nearby, reasonable, safe location to obtain required rest after loading or unloading. The resting location must be the first such location reasonably available.
- Moving a CMV at the request of a safety official during the driver’s off-duty time.
- Time spent transporting personal property while off-duty.
- Authorized use of a CMV to travel home after working at an offsite location.
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 in order to enhance the operational readiness of a motor carrier. For example, bypassing available resting locations in order to get closer to the next loading or unloading point or other scheduled motor carrier destination.
- 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 to pick up another towed unit.
- Continuation of a CMV trip in interstate commerce in order to fulfill a business purpose, including bobtailing or operating with an empty trailer in order to retrieve another load or repositioning a CMV (tractor or trailer) at the direction of the motor carrier.
- Time spent transporting a CMV to a facility to have vehicle maintenance performed.
- After being placed out of service for exceeding the maximum periods permitted under 49 CFR Part 395, time spent driving to a location to obtain required rest, unless so directed by an enforcement officer at the scene.
- Time spent traveling to a company’s terminal after loading or unloading from a shipper or a receiver.
In addition, three members of the House of Representatives have introduced legislation to provide hours of service relief in several areas.
The HOURS Act, H.R, 6178, would expand and make uniform the hours of service rules for short-haul operations. Under the bill, a driver requiring a commercial driver’s license would be exempt from the log book, 30-minute rest break and Electronic Logging Device requirements if the driver operates within 150 air-miles of the normal work reporting location and is relieved from duty within 14 hours. The current limits are 100 air-miles and 12 hours.
Also, the bill would reduce the current supporting documents requirement to require only those documents necessary to verify the start and end time of a driver’s daily on-duty period, since ELDs automatically track location and time data based on engine and GPS data.
Finally, it would allow the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to forgo an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking in the rulemaking process with respect to split sleeper berth flexibility.
The bill stands a good chance of passage as it has the support of the trucking industry.