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What is personal conveyance?

Significant changes increase flexibility and potential liability

Updated October 5, 2018

Personal use of a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), also known as personal conveyance (PC) is one of the hot topics regarding hours of service (HOS). The interpretation pertaining to PC was updated in 2018 by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

Carriers aren’t required to allow drivers to use personal conveyance, but those that do should keep in mind these key points:

  • What is allowed is often a matter of enforcement’s interpretation of the circumstances, and
  • What is legal is not always found to be prudent in court.

With 2018’s updates, question 26 of the interpretations for 49 CFR Section 395.8 was updated as follows:

Question: If a driver is permitted to use a CMV for personal reasons, how must the driving time be recorded?

Guidance: A driver may record time operating a CMV for personal conveyance (i.e., for personal use or reasons) 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 carrier at that time. Personal conveyance does not reduce a driver’s or motor carrier’s responsibility to operate a CMV safely. 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.

(a) 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.
  2. 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. In these scenarios, the commuting distance combined with the release from work and start to work times must allow the driver enough time to obtain the required restorative rest as to ensure the driver is not fatigued.
  3. Time spent traveling to a nearby, reasonable, safe location to obtain required rest after loading or unloading. The time driving under personal conveyance must allow the driver adequate time to obtain the required rest in accordance with minimum off-duty periods under 49 CFR 395.3(a)(1) (property-carrying vehicles) or 395.5(a) (passenger-carrying vehicles) before returning to on-duty driving, and the resting location must be the first such location reasonably available.
  4. Moving a CMV at the request of a safety official during the driver’s off-duty time.
  5. Time spent traveling in a motorcoach without passengers to en route lodging (such as motel or truck stop), or to restaurants and entertainment facilities and back to the lodging. In this scenario, the driver of the motorcoach can claim personal conveyance provided the driver is off-duty. Other off-duty drivers may be on board the vehicle, and are not considered passengers.
  6. Time spent transporting personal property while off-duty.
  7. Authorized use of a CMV to travel home after working at an offsite location.

(b) 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 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.
  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 to pick up another towed unit.
  3. 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.
  4. Time spent driving a passenger-carrying CMV while passenger(s) are on board. Off-duty drivers are not considered passengers when traveling to a common destination of their own choice within the scope of this guidance.
  5. Time spent transporting a CMV to a facility to have vehicle maintenance performed.
  6. After being placed out of service for exceeding the maximum periods permitted under part 395, time spent driving to a location to obtain required rest, unless so directed by an enforcement officer at the scene.
  7. Time spent traveling to a motor carrier’s terminal after loading or unloading from a shipper or a receiver.
  8. Time spent operating a motorcoach when luggage is stowed, the passengers have disembarked and the driver has been directed to deliver the luggage.”

Personal Conveyance Enforcement Considerations

The two key questions that enforcement will use to assess the appropriate use of personal conveyance are:

  • Is the movement solely for personal use with no benefit to the carrier?
  • Is the driver relieved from work and all responsibility for performing work, and is the driver able to pursue activities of their own choosing?

What about …

The 10-hour break or 34-hour restart?
Time spent appropriately driving under personal conveyance while off duty will count as part of a driver’s 10- or 34-consecutive-hour break, with the requirement that the driver obtain “restorative” rest during the break. Although, a four-hour nap during a 10-hour break after using PC for three hours to get home may not be deemed to be “restorative.” Also, the driver may not operate the vehicle under PC while ill or fatigued.

Nearby, reasonable, and safe?
Enforcement does not want to question what a driver considers reasonable and safe. However, a driver leaving a customer and driving off-duty past two or three truckstops before parking would likely be questioned. If a driver leaves a customer under PC and moves in the direction of the next business-related location, this may only be done to seek nearby, reasonable, and safe parking for restorative rest.

Authorization and liability?
Ultimately, the company is responsible for defining its personal conveyance policy or for deciding not to authorize personal use of the company’s CMVs. The FMCSA does not require a written policy or authorization by the carrier. However, motor carriers should check with their insurers to discuss liability coverage issues, and have policies and training in place so drivers know exactly when they can use company CMVs for personal conveyance. Carriers must recognize that “appropriate use” in this interpretation may be viewed differently in a court room.

Moving for maintenance?
Any movement that involves the maintenance or conditioning of the vehicle must be recorded as drive time, even if it’s the weekend and the driver used the “personal conveyance” exception to take the truck home. A trip to the local repair facility cannot be completed under personal conveyance.

Using PC in Canada?
Canada’s limit for personal use is 75 kilometers per day. This personal conveyance interpretation does not apply while operating in Canada.

The ELD Mandate and “personal use”

The ELD mandate states that it is optional for carriers to set up ELDs to allow drivers to put themselves in a special driving category called “personal use.” When a driver selects this option before driving, the ELD will record the time as off duty. If a driver does not pre-select personal use, the driving event may not be edited to personal use from automatically recorded driving time. When prompted by the ELD, each instance of personal use must be annotated to note the circumstances.

The FMCSA didn’t set a threshold of distance or time, but officials can and will use the ELD data, mapping software, supporting documents, and the driver’s comments to determine whether the personal conveyance category was appropriately used by the driver.

Personal Conveyance Guidance BriefPersonal Conveyance Guidance Brief - Get our 2-page Personal Conveyance Guidance Brief to find out more about how enforcement personnel will evaluate the use of personal conveyance. You'll also get 15 specific examples of when the use of personal conveyance is – and is not – legal.


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