CVSA petitions FMCSA for 'personal conveyance' time, distance limits

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Trucking news and briefs for Wednesday, April 6, 2022:

CVSA petitions FMCSA for ‘personal conveyance’ clarification

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, in a letter penned to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on March 29, petitioned the agency to amend the “personal conveyance” regulations by adding a definition for the term.

Specifically, CVSA asked the agency to define “personal conveyance” with the maximum distance and/or time a driver can operate under personal conveyance status.

“To be eligible to log personal conveyance time as off-duty, commercial motor vehicle drivers must meet several conditions as outlined in the regulatory guidance on the agency’s website,” CVSA said, including “being relieved of all on-duty activities and responsibilities and ensuring that the off-duty trip is personal in nature.”

The group said, however, that the guidance falls short by not providing distance or time limitations. Instead, the guidance gives motor carriers discretion on how to police personal conveyance.

“Motor carriers can establish personal conveyance limitations either within the scope of, or more restrictive than, this guidance, such as banning use of a CMV for personal conveyance purposes, imposing a distance limitation on personal conveyance, or prohibiting personal conveyance while the CMV is laden,” FMSCA’s guidance currently reads.

CVSA said this adversely affects safety “by allowing drivers to utilize personal conveyance to legally drive many hours beyond the hours-of-service limits and by making it difficult for inspectors to identify the misuse of the provision.”

The group adds that under current guidance without maximum daily distance or time limits, it “presents a legal way for drivers to significantly extend their driving time and the furtherance of their load while recording personal conveyance.”

Yet this is not the first go-around for CVSA on this issue. A previous petition to FMCSA for time/distance limits to personal conveyance was outright denied by the agency in September of 2020.  

For inspectors at roadside, CVSA said current guidance around personal conveyance makes it difficult for them to determine if a driver’s use of personal conveyance is legitimately for personal use rather than to skirt hours of service regulations.

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The group noted that some inspectors have been able to identify misuse of the provision, which has been reflected in an uptick in false log violations. CVSA said false record of duty status violations were the third most documented driver violation in 2021, up from the sixth most frequent in 2019. A new violation code was also added in June 2021, CVSA said, that allows inspectors to specifically note when false log violations were a result of misuse of personal conveyance.

“As of Jan. 28, there were already 3,041 violations cited under 395.8E1PC, indicating the misuse of personal conveyance,” CVSA said in its letter to FMCSA, citing what it called "preliminary" data. “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 alleged this data demonstrated "drivers are in fact using the vague guidance for personal conveyance in an attempt to avoid hours of service violations.” CVSA added that other drivers are misusing the provision unintentionally because the definition and guidance are unclear. 

ATRI seeks carriers’ operational cost data

The American Transportation Research Institute is once again asking motor carriers to participate in its Operational Costs of Trucking study.

Now in its 14th year, ATRI’s annual Operational Costs of Trucking collects cost information derived directly from trucking fleets and owner-operators.

The annual analysis is used as a key benchmarking tool by motor carriers of all sizes. Public sector agencies also utilize the analysis to make better-informed transportation planning and infrastructure investment decisions. 

This year for the first time, participating motor carriers will receive a customized report that compares their fleet’s operational costs to those of peer carriers of the same sector and size.

“ATRI’s Operational Costs report has been a long-standing tool for evaluating our operational efficiencies and identifying where we need to improve,” said Harold A. Sumerford, Jr., J&M Tank Lines CEO. “The new customized fleet report will be a tremendous value for participating fleets, and I encourage carriers of all sizes to contribute data and take advantage of this great offer from ATRI.” 

Among the for-hire fleet metrics being requested by ATRI are driver pay, fuel costs, insurance premiums and lease or purchase payments. Carriers and owner-operators are also asked to provide 2021 cost per mile and/or cost per hour data using the easy-to-use online data entry form. 

Carriers are encouraged to provide operational cost data to ATRI by Friday, May 13. ATRI’s data collection form, which protects all confidential information, is available here. Participating motor carriers will receive an advance copy of the full report and the new customized fleet report.