In my short-time dealing with the FMCSA, DOT, and their regulations imposed on the transportation and trucking industry, I never once thought I would be applauding a regulatory decision made by either entity. Alas, here we are in 2018 (which I’ve dubbed ‘The Year of the Truck Driver’ in conversations) and they have managed to send shockwaves, yet again, through an industry that so desperately needs more transparency and guidance. Multiple pay increases across most large carriers (for drivers), ELD’s required throughout the industry, blockchain on the rise, and now you can add personal conveyance being defined to that list. A term that has long been considered ‘gray’ is now, finally, more black-and-white than ever!
Here is an excerpt from the FMCSA website regarding what personal conveyance is defined as:
“Personal conveyance is the movement of a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) for personal use while off-duty. A driver may record time operating a CMV for personal conveyance as off-duty only when the driver is relieved from work and all responsibility for performing work by 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 motor carrier at that time.”
There are two specific points to take note of, here:
1. ‘Relieved from work and all responsibility for performing work by the motor carrier.’
2. ‘The CMV may be used for personal conveyance even if it is laden.’
Does This Even Matter?
Oh, it matters! Ask any owner-operator out there and they will tell you that this provides them with plenty of leeway on their 14-hour clock. If you consider that an 8-hour sleeper berth is needed to reset, this new regulation theoretically allows an extra hour of transit time on the front and back-end of a 10-hour reset. The owner-operator benefits, however, are more obvious than the company driver benefits; one of which may help the ‘driver shortage’ a bit.
For company drivers that routinely take their truck home as opposed to a terminal (and subsequently would drive their personal vehicle home), this means that the time to-and-from the terminal or first pickup location can also be logged as personal conveyance (otherwise known as ‘off duty driving’). Unfortunately, this does mean that some companies may abuse this new regulation and start having company drivers drive a bit longer than a 14-hour day due to it being considered ‘personal conveyance’. However, what this does do is allow for the hiring radius for local positions to broaden oh so slightly. A local position hiring within 30-miles may now be able to hire within 50-miles if the driver takes their truck home (and is obviously OK with the extra driving distance, daily). It’s not uncommon for a carrier to be unable to hire a driver due to where the live possibly cutting into their daily duty hours due to transiting to-and-from their home terminal.
Those two points alone are a game changer. The FMCSA allowing a personal conveyance movement while the truck/trailer is laden, to me, shows reasonable regulatory oversight in being understanding to a driver’s plight while over the road. The situations in which a driver could be stuck somewhere due to no fault of their own are endless. Shippers, receivers, customers, traffic, weather, maintenance issues, etc. are all factors that can affect a driver’s ability to safely make it to a location to rest and take his or her reset. With the above regulations in place, a driver can now run his or her clock out at a shipper due to delays and still, legally, be able to transit 50 miles down the road to the nearest truck stop for their break.
You can find the remainder of the explanations and interpretations of the FMCSA guidelines here on their website: FMCSA Website. Also take a look at the infographic above for the main details of the new regulations!
The (Unfortunately) Still 'Gray' Area
No success would be complete without some doubt still looming. We can all give credit where credit is due to the FMCSA for finally releasing this regulation and for ‘taming’ the beast that is personal conveyance. Unfortunately, there is still one issue that will likely arise at road checks, audits, compliance reviews, etc.:
“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.”
The above quote was again taken from the FMCSA website under the section of ‘Examples of Uses of a CMV that Would Not Qualify as Personal Conveyance’. This is essentially the portion of the regulation that a DOT official, officer, or auditor will use to say “Nope, sorry, you cannot use personal conveyance here.”. Because of the nature of this portion of the regulation, a lot is left up to the subjective point of view of the person reviewing the duty status. I, for one, foresee many drivers uttering the words “But officer, that truck stop back there had no parking available!”, quite frequently.
If you are a driver looking for a new professional Class-A driving job and are looking to be respected and paid like you deserve, please contact Truckers America Corp. at 877-789-5778 ext. 2. As a Truckers America driver, you get paid a salary plus additional bonuses. That’s it. There’s no catch. Most of our positions are typically home daily or home every other day (layovers). However, we do pay our OTR drivers quite well if you’re looking to stay out over-the-road. Call and speak with us so that you can make an informed decision. We hope to be working with you soon!