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CVSA reacts to FMCSA rejection of personal conveyance petition

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Washington — The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance is evaluating its next course of action after the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on Sept. 18 denied a CVSA petition requesting that the agency update its definition of personal conveyance and clarify a mileage limit.

A letter written by FMCSA acting administrator Wiley Deck and addressed to CVSA Executive Director Collin Mooney claims that the CVSA proposal lacks a “sufficient safety basis” to proceed with rulemaking that “would essentially propose arbitrary limits without any evidence of safety critical events avoided.”

CVSA filed the petition in May, after FMCSA announced a controversial final rule the agency claims adds flexibility to hours-of-service regulations. The rule went into effect Sept. 29.

“We understand the agency’s position on personal conveyance,” Mooney told Safety+Health, “but we still believe that it’s not addressed adequately.”

In June 2018, FMCSA issued guidance intended to clarify both the agricultural commodities exemption and the personal conveyance provision in HOS regulations.

According to the agency, personal conveyance – a driver’s movement of a commercial motor vehicle for personal use – is considered off-duty status and therefore does not affect HOS limitations.

However, CVSA contends in the petition that the guidance is “incomplete” without establishing a maximum distance and/or time a CMV operator can travel under the personal conveyance provision, stating that “a driver could, in theory, drive hundreds of miles over the course of several hours” under this designation, increasing the risk of driver fatigue and impacting roadway safety.

“Even though the agency says that setting a distance or time limit would be arbitrary, on the flip side of things, having things wide open for personal conveyance now is open-ended in itself, which is the whole point in the petition – why it’s creating issues,” Mooney said. “Because it gives the motor carrier industry and drivers an opportunity to hide hours under the premise of personal conveyance, which in fact is a falsification of the hours of service of the records of duty status. So, by providing that loophole, that gateway to camouflage or hide hours, we feel, is very problematic and jeopardizes highway safety.”

 

Deck writes that the guidance remains “an appropriate response to the issue, given the lack of research and data to support the adoption of specific restrictions.”

According to the guidance – which is effective until June 7, 2023 – other examples of personal conveyance include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Time spent traveling to restaurants and entertainment facilities from en route lodging, such as a motel or truck stop.
  • 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.

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