"An intermodal yard or port facility" is among the examples of "yards" in the FMCSA's proposed definition for hours of service rules. - Photo: Jim Park

"An intermodal yard or port facility" is among the examples of "yards" in the FMCSA's proposed definition for hours of service rules.

Photo: Jim Park

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is trying to better define what constitutes a “yard” when it comes to “yard moves” under hours-of-service regulations. Movements of commercial motor vehicles in “yards” are considered “yard moves” and can be recorded as on-duty not driving time rather than driving time.

But just what is a “yard”?

The issue came up during the electronic logging device regulatory process. Although “yard moves” were already in the hours-of-service regs before ELDs, in reality, without an electronic record automatically recording each time the truck moved, they often weren’t documented. Some commenters wanted the agency to define the term “yard move” in its final ELD rule, but FMCSA did not, saying that it related more broadly to the HOS rules, not just to ELDs.

In December 2019, after the final ELD mandate deadline went into effect, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance asked the agency to define yard moves.

The FMCSA published guidance in February 2020 saying that a driver who jockeys commercial motor vehicles in the yard (private property) on weekends should record that time as on-duty (not driving) time. (This superseded a 1997 guidance saying that should be on-duty driving.) It also published guidance saying that this would not be considered personal conveyance.

FMCSA is proposing to broaden the yard move guidance to clarify that a driver can use yard move status “only if the movement of the CMV occurs in a confined area on private property (or intermodal facility or briefly on public roads, as described below).

Examples of properties that may qualify as yards include, but are not limited to:

  1. An intermodal yard or port facility.
  2. A motor carrier's place of business.
  3. A shipper's privately owned parking lot.
  4. A public road, but only if and while public access to the road is restricted through traffic control measures such as lights, gates, flaggers or other means. For example, if a driver must operate on a public road briefly to reach different parts of a private property, the movement may be considered a yard move if public access is restricted during the move.

Examples of properties that do not qualify as yards include a a public road without the traffic control measures mentioned above, or public rest areas.

Comments are due by Feb. 3, 2021; the proposal and instructions for commenting are available at Regulations.gov.

Eventual publication of this guidance could be delayed as President-Elect Joe Biden starts his term. The Biden-Harris transition team announced that it will issue a memo to take effect after noon on Jan. 20 to halt or delay “midnight regulations,” actions taken by the Trump administration that will have not yet taken effect by inauguration day. This will apply to not only regulations but also guidance documents, according to the transition team.

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