At a Mid-America Trucking Show panel about Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs), an FMCSA representative spoke about ways of staying out of trouble while using the infamously inflexible technology. One such way – which became the topic of a huge number of questions from drivers – was making use of “personal conveyance time.”
According to the FMCSA website, personal conveyance “is the movement of a commercial motor vehicle for personal use while off-duty.” This allows a driver to continue operating their vehicle even when they have run out of driving hours.
Most drivers think that they can drive on personal conveyance time only in extremely limited circumstances – like driving just the tractor to get a meal. But Joe DeLorenzo, the FMCSA’s Director of Enforcement and Compliance, told panel audience members that drivers shouldn’t worry so much.
DeLorenzo says that as long as the driver is off-duty and the vehicle is being moved for a non-business purpose, a driver is probably fine.
“Am I off duty? Am I doing any work at the request of the motor carrier, rather than for myself? Is the major purpose of why the motor vehicle is being moved personal? Is it for a nonbusiness-related purpose?”
According to DeLorenzo, truckers can even drive on personal conveyance time until they find a safe location to park. Given the lack of safe truck parking, this could be a huge help for drivers.
“We don’t want a driver parking in a lot that doesn’t have any lighting or any protection,” DeLorenzo said according to Transport Topics. “We don’t want anybody parking on the side of the highway where it’s unsafe. You can make the call.”
Truckers can absolutely still get in trouble for using the time for things they shouldn’t, like bringing a vehicle in for maintenance, travelling after a vehicle has been placed out of service, or moving the truck or trailer at the direction of a motor carrier “in order to fulfill a business purpose.”
As for how exactly a driver is supposed to know when it’s okay to use the personal conveyance time allowance, DeLorenzo seems to think the rules are vague for a reason.
“It doesn’t matter what you’re hauling or whether you’re loaded or unloaded or hooked up to a trailer or not,” said DeLorenzo. “You can move the vehicle to the nearest safe location on personal conveyance time to get rest, and you don’t have to go backwards. This is one of those times where it’s OK to continue on the progress of the load as long as you are stopping at the nearest reasonable, safe location. We deliberately don’t define that because that’s a judgment call on the part of the driver.”