Transportation Trucking Federal agencies Hours of service

FMCSA clarifies hours-of-service rules on agricultural commodities, personal conveyance

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Washington — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued guidance intended to clarify the agricultural commodities exemption and the “personal conveyance” provision in driver hours-of-service regulations, according to separate notices published in the June 7 Federal Register.

After gathering feedback from the public and stakeholders in the commercial motor vehicle industry, FMCSA published question-and-answer guidance on the HOS exemption for drivers who transport livestock and other agricultural commodities within a radius of 150 air miles.

FMCSA notes that the exception “should apply to all portions of a round trip” that occur within the 150-mile radius. For trips exceeding 150 air miles, drivers are subject to HOS rules upon exiting the radius, and are exempt again only upon returning within the original radius. “The agency disagrees that it would be impossible to determine HOS compliance outside the 150 air-mile radius,” according to one of the Federal Register notices.

FMCSA also clarifies that although each trip can have only one source, many trips include multiple loading points. In these instances, the radius “continues to be measured from the first pick-up point regardless of the number of times commodities are loaded or offloaded,” the notice states.

Further, the notice states: “A trip terminates when all of the commodity has been offloaded or non-exempt freight or products are added to the load. Thereafter, a new trip under the agricultural exemption could be started the same day by loading a shipment of agricultural commodities at a different source. The 150 air-mile radius would then be measured from this new trip initiation point.”

In another notice, FMCSA states that personal conveyance – a driver’s movement of the CMV for personal use – is considered off-duty status and therefore does not affect HOS limitations.

FMCSA further clarifies that moving from a shipper or receiver to the nearest safe resting area may qualify as personal conveyance “regardless of whether the driver exhausted his or her HOS, as long as the CMV is being moved solely to enable the driver to obtain the required rest at a safe location.” Should a law enforcement official request a driver to relocate a CMV within the 10-hour break period, personal conveyance may be used and the rest period need not be restarted. The CMV, however, must not be transported beyond the nearest reasonable and safe area to fulfill the rest period.

According to the notice, other examples of personal conveyance include, but are not limited to:

  • Time spent traveling from 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 worksites and the driver’s residence.
  • Time spent traveling in a motorcoach without passengers to en route lodging, or to restaurants or entertainment facilities and back to the lodging.
  • Time spent transporting personal property while off duty.
  • Authorized CMV use to travel home after working at an offsite location.

“We are dedicated to finding effective solutions to challenges, exploring new opportunities for innovation and constantly seeking ways to improve,” FMCSA Administrator Raymond Martinez said in a May 31 press release.

Speaking at an April 12 appropriations hearing, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao said she has “encouraged legislation” to clarify HOS requirements.

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