…and How Can I Use It Without Getting Into Trouble with the FMCSA
Truck Driving Myths and Facts from the DOT Compliance Experts
Jerry was 3 minutes shy of hitting his 70 hours with 120 miles left until he reached his terminal. He could park the truck until midnight when he would get enough hours back to finish the trip, or he could try something else.
Another driver at a truck stop told him to use personal conveyance. “Getting home from a trip is personal,” he said. “Isn’t that what it’s made for?”
Jerry thought, “I could be home in 2 hours, or I can spend half a day in my sleeper waiting to do it the right way.” So he decided to chance it.
An hour down the road, the weigh station that was never open was OPEN. “What bad luck,” he thought. “I hope the inspector doesn’t ask too many questions.”
Jerry’s luck ran out. During the Roadside Inspection, the State Trooper looked at his ELD and saw he was using a PC. “Why are you using Personal Conveyance, Sir?”
“Because I want to get home, and that makes it personal. That’s what another driver told me.”
The trooper returned after 20 minutes and issued Jerry a $200 ticket, and placed him Out-of-Service. “Don’t always believe what you hear at truck stops, Sir.”
What is FMCSA Personal Conveyance?
One of the questions truck drivers ask more often than any other is when they can use “Personal Conveyance Rules” to move their trucks. But, to answer that question, you have to look at the bigger question.
Why does the FMCSA require truck drivers to record their hours in the first place? The answer may seem obvious, to prevent truck drivers from driving fatigued, which can ultimately lead to deadly crashes.
So the FMCSA wants to know how many hours drivers are driving, on duty-not driving, off duty, or resting in a sleeper berth. Since 1937 the Interstate Commerce Commission, US DOT, and the FMCSA have limited how many hours commercial truck drivers can drive before resting.
But these laws don’t apply to all drivers of large vehicles. We have all seen large motor homes towing giant boat trailers traveling at 70 mph down the interstate.
These drivers are usually not regulated by FMCSA. Therefore, there are no limits on their driving hours, and they often don’t need a CDL license or medical certifications.
How can this be? That fact is the FMCSA only regulates Commercial Motor Vehicles, not vehicles used for personal use.
49CFR 390.5 defines qualifying vehicles as being used in “commerce.”
So to answer what is Personal Conveyance, ask yourself these questions?
- Is this move in any way benefiting my company? If yes, then it is not Personal Conveyance.
- Am I using the company’s truck for my own personal use? If yes, then it may be considered Personal Conveyance.
Another way to answer the question is:
Am I using this vehicle “in the furtherance of a commercial enterprise?”
What is a Commercial Enterprise?
That definition may include more than you think. For example, commercial enterprises are not only for-profit businesses but may also include non-profits.
Driving a truck to transport your antique car to a car show may not be a commercial enterprise, but if you sell advertising or collect cash prizes, then it may be regulated.
Examples of Personal Conveyance may be:
You are on a layover at a motel to get your 34-hour reset. You can drive the truck to a restaurant to eat and then return to the motel. This type of operation is for the driver’s personal benefit and not benefitting the company.
You own a landscaping truck. During the week, it is regulated because you are using it to make money. Then, on the weekend, you use the same truck to tow your boat to the lake. Now it isn’t regulated because that move doesn’t benefit the company.
An employee borrows the company box truck to move their personal furniture on a Saturday. This does not benefit the company, so it isn’t regulated.
You have been asked by a property owner, or the police, to move your truck. You are allowed to move it to a “Safe Haven” so long as it does not benefit the company.
These are not examples of Personal Conveyance:
You are out of hours and want to get to your home terminal. This is not personal conveyance.
You are asked to move your truck, but you drive an unreasonable distance in the direction of your delivery or terminal.
How do I document Personal Conveyance?
If you are logbook exempt, then using a PC is easy. Just make sure the use is strictly personal, and you are not being paid in any way.
If your vehicle is equipped with an ELD (Electronic Logging Device), then it becomes a little more tricky. Depending on the ELD provider you are using, you may need to log into the ELD as Off-Duty and choose PC before moving the truck. (Some ELD providers may require you to log into On Duty-Not Driving before doing this).
Roger LeBel is the Safety Compliance Manager with Armellini Logistics. He has over 25 years of commercial vehicle safety experience in both the private sector as well as a CMV enforcement unit commander.