Strict compliance with the hours of service requirements set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (“FMCSA”) is a goal shared by responsible motor carriers and drivers alike. One aspect of the hours of service requirements that is less than clear is that related to personal conveyance. Because FMCSA regulations do not even address the concept of personal conveyance (instead only offering a guidance or interpretation that some argue creates more questions than it answers), both motor carriers and drivers subject to the FMCSA regulations find themselves struggling to ensure compliance.
What is personal conveyance?
Simply stated, personal conveyance refers to any personal trip made by a driver while on off-duty status. As noted above, no actual regulation defining the term personal conveyance or its use currently exists. Motor carriers and drivers are instead only provided a guidance (associated with 49 CFR Section 395.8) which only directly covers two situations: 1) the driver’s commute to and from the work location; and 2) personal trips from a driver’s en route lodging. However, the provided guidance does not limit the use of personal conveyance to these two situations.
What are the requirements for driving on personal conveyance?
Again, no FMCSA regulation clearly sets forth what a driver must do in order to drive on personal conveyance. However, reading the guidance provided, the following factors identified provide some direction: 1) the drive must be made for the driver’s personal business; 2) the distance driven must be “short;” 3) the vehicle must be unladen or unloaded; and 4) no work activity may be performed during any part of the personal conveyance time.
Must a driver seek approval to use personal conveyance?
The FMCSA regulations provide no rules on this issue, and the interpretation and guidance provided offer no advice to motor carriers on whether or not motor carriers should allow drivers to drive on personal conveyance time at all. We recommend that motor carriers create required policies on the use or restriction of personal conveyance. Motor carriers who choose to allow drivers to utilize personal conveyance should establish rules and guidelines for its use and provide consistent training to drivers on the company’s chosen policy.
The transportation industry must navigate ever-changing regulation, and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations rapidly transform.