The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance petitioned federal trucking regulators to add a maximum time and/or mileage limit in an effort clarify the definition of personal conveyance use by commercial truck drivers.
In a letter to FMCSA, CVSA expressed that under existing requirements it’s difficult for inspectors to verify legitimate personal conveyance time claimed by drivers.
“Under the current guidance, a driver could, in theory, drive hundreds of miles over the course of several hours all under the designation of personal conveyance,” CVSA wrote. “This presents the opportunity for increased driver fatigue and risk on our roadways, as drivers may decide to travel hundreds of miles in order to strategically relocate to an alternate location after driving a full day.”
FMCSA’s guidance for personal conveyance, the use of a commercial motor vehicle for personal use while off duty, has become a source of confusion for not only truck drivers, but also fleet managers.
CVSA said the guidance provides some parameters for the use of personal conveyance, all with the goal of ensuring the trip is for personal use.
“These parameters, however, are extremely difficult to verify during a roadside inspection, particularly when the personal conveyance has been utilized on previous days and/or trips in the record-of-duty status, making enforcement of the misuse of personal conveyance very difficult,” CVSA wrote. “These challenges were exacerbated by the change in the guidance to allow laden vehicles to be used under personal conveyance.”
“That change has opened the door for drivers to falsely claim the use of personal conveyance when they are really attempting to further their trip and extend driving time.”
Without a maximum daily distance or time limit, the guidance presents a legal way for drivers to significantly extend their driving time and the furtherance of their load while recording personal conveyance, CVSA said.
CVSA first petitioned FMCSA to make the change late in 2018. However, the petition was then denied in September of 2020 with FMCSA saying,
“While we acknowledge the CVSA’s concerns, we do not believe there is a sufficient safety basis for initiating a rulemaking.”
But since the original petition, the inspectors’ trade group said its members have been seeing an increased misuse of the provision.
As of Jan. 28, there were already 3,041 violations cited under the false records-of-duty status regulation, indicating the misuse of personal conveyance. Of those violations, 61% resulted in the driver being placed out of service because their misuse of personal conveyance was an attempt to conceal extra driving time, CVSA said.
Although the data is preliminary, it demonstrates that drivers are in fact using the vague guidance for personal conveyance in an attempt to avoid hours-of-service violations, CVSA said.