Drivers

When Can Driving Time be Considered Off-Duty Time?

This question has to do with what has been termed “personal conveyance.” This is a situation where a driver is using his/her commercial vehicle as a personal vehicle to commute to and from a personal destination.

August 2013, TruckingInfo.com - WebXclusive

by Tom Bray, J.J. Keller & Associates

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One of the requirements is the vehicle must not be “laden.” If you drive a tractor-trailer, this means not even pulling a trailer. (Photo by Evan Lockridge)
One of the requirements is the vehicle must not be “laden.” If you drive a tractor-trailer, this means not even pulling a trailer. (Photo by Evan Lockridge)

Under normal circumstances, all time spent at the controls operating a commercial vehicle must be logged as driving time (on-duty time if the driver is using one of the exceptions that allows the use of time records).

However, what happens with a driver is using his or her commercial vehicle as a personal vehicle to commute to or from a personal destination?

The concept of “off-duty driving time” is not actually in the regulations; however, it is discussed in the interpretations to Part 395. Interpretations are guidances published by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to provide a better understanding of the rules.

It can be done if you follow the rules

To be able to log personal conveyance time as off duty, there are several conditions that must be met. These conditions are the same whether a company driver is taking his/her company truck home or an owner-operator is taking his/her truck home (or to another personal destination).

First, you must be relieved of all responsibilities and conduct no on-duty activities. No work for the company is allowed during the personal conveyance. For example, you cannot bring the truck in for maintenance and call the trip personal conveyance.

Second, the trip and destination must be purely personal in nature. Moving to pick up your next load, bringing the truck into the terminal from your last destination, and running to the parts store for parts cannot be considered personal conveyance. You must be commuting to a personal destination, such as home, a restaurant, or a motel, and back.

Third, the vehicle must not be “laden.” In other words, you cannot be carrying any freight during the personal conveyance. If you drive a tractor trailer, this means not even pulling a trailer.

Fourth, you must not be “repositioning” the equipment. If you go from your company’s terminal to home, and then are dispatched to go get a trailer somewhere else, you have repositioned and cannot call the trip personal conveyance.

Fifth, you cannot be using the vehicle as a personal conveyance if you have been placed out of service for an hours-of-service violation.

Finally, the personal conveyance distance needs to be “reasonable.” You are not allowed to travel several hundred miles and call it personal conveyance. One definition of reasonable is, “Could the driver get 8 hours of sleep after arriving at the personal destination if the driver only took 10 hours off?” If the answer is no, then the distance may not be considered reasonable.

The Canadian regulations are a little more specific in this area. A driver in Canada cannot use the commercial vehicle for personal conveyance for more than 75 kilometers per day.

But they’re not paying me!

In certain situations, carriers may tell their drivers or owner-operators that they can just “head for home.” In many cases, when the carrier does this they do not pay the driver or owner-operator for their time or miles.

Does this change the situation? No, it does not. Pay is not a determining factor in whether a driver is on duty or off duty. The driver’s activity is what determines whether the driver should be logging on or off duty. If the driver is not relieved of all responsibilities, does work along the way, has a laden vehicle, or is repositioning equipment, the driver cannot claim the time is personal conveyance and the trip must be logged as on-duty and/or driving.

The only time pay is an issue when it comes to logging is if payroll records can prove that the driver was on duty. An example of this is paying a driver for loading or unloading. If the driver was specifically paid to load or unload, then the driver should have logged the time as on-duty time.

As you can see, there are several conditions that must be met to consider a trip with a commercial vehicle to be “personal conveyance.” The best advice is that when looking at the trip, if you are not sure you can meet one of the requirements, your best bet is to just keep logging the “regular” way.

Thomas Bray is Sr. Editor – Transportation Management for J.J. Keller & Associates, Inc. He spent more than 20 years in the motor carrier industry prior to joining J.J. Keller’s Transport Editorial Team eight years ago. His industry experience ranges from over-the-road driver and trainer to claims manager, lead instructor, and safety director.

Comments

  1. 1. Bow Bowman [ August 27, 2013 @ 05:24PM ]

    what about an OO leaving a receiver and is now off duty. He desires to use the truck with a trailer to return home for an extended time off (vacation) the travel to home would be inconvenient to the OO and cost for the airfare or bus ticket and storage of the truck... he would rather take the truck home because it would also be quicker than arranging and obtaining other forms of transportation. It seems labeling the empty trailer as a laden vehicle is unreasonable... if there is no load to reposition to, and there are none known at the time, the vehicle is merely personal conveyance...

  2. 2. Tim Jurco [ August 28, 2013 @ 07:17PM ]

    What if an owner operator, also owns their own trailer? If they are empty, when can that be considered off-duty, if the driver is wishing to return home or get to another destination, for time off.

  3. 3. jab8283 [ August 29, 2013 @ 02:55PM ]

    This is a screwy rule. The plant I work out of is 30 miles from my home. I own my semi-tractor and use it as a personal car to get to and from work everyday just like all commuters. In the mornings I drive to the plant to hook up to loaded trailer at which point I go on duty through my work day. At the end of my shift, I drop the trailer at the plant and bobtail the thirty mile distance back home. The size of my equipment has nothing to do with the definition of personal car. Because I own my truck, I sure in hell ain't leaving it in someone else's driveway or lot. It belongs to me and when I'm not driving it, it better be sitting in my driveway.

  4. 4. John [ August 29, 2013 @ 07:25PM ]

    I think that PC is a good rule to have. Unfortunately, most companies REFUSE to acknowledge it.

  5. 5. Amish Trucker Blog.com [ September 05, 2013 @ 05:12AM ]

    What if an owner-operator borrows a company truck and is bobtailing to the terminal but forgot his lunch and turns around to go home. Since he eats his lunch during his mandatory 1/2 hour unpaid break would bobtailing to get his lunch, then be an on duty function? What if he then realizes he has already used 70 hours but it has only been 148 hours since the start of his last 34 hour reset? Does he have to stop the truck on the side of the road for 20 hours? What if his lunch is sitting on the counter and there's nobody to put it back in the fridge? Does it make a sound?

  6. 6. Wade [ November 03, 2013 @ 08:38PM ]

    It says no trailer but would camper trailer count. Could he use the truck to pull it to a destination for a weekend getaway. And if you meet these requirements do you have to scale if you come across one

  7. 7. michael l white [ January 31, 2014 @ 07:15PM ]

    Stop by Irving police was not driving CMV, personal car poss of marj/WEED THE same use for health purposes, but a governor/mayor/judge get busted he still holds their position CDL druver/IDENTITY theft victim help. .Whats right political bullying

 

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