Truckers gain flexibility to find safe parking

In a win for truckers who simply want to find a safe place to park and rest in an age of electronic logging devices and stringent hours of service regulations, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration made a big announcement May 31. 

Effective immediately, whether the truck is loaded or not, drivers are allowed to enter into personal conveyance status to find the nearest safe parking or rest location in such situations.

“For lots of different reasons, questions have come up over the last six months or year,” said Joe DeLorenzo, FMCSA’s head of enforcement and compliance. “We felt it was an important topic to help clarify guidance.”

According to a notice from FMCSA, “The movement from a shipper or receiver to the nearest safe resting area may be identified as personal conveyance regardless of whether the driver exhausted his or her hours of service, as long as the CMV is being moved solely to enable the driver to obtain the required rest at a safe location.”

To claim personal conveyance, a driver must be released from duty by the employer. After that, any truck movement has to be for personal use. 

Largely, this shift in personal conveyance was caused by increasing rigidity in hours of service (thanks to ELDs). Additionally, finding safe parking has also been an issue in the trucking industry. 

In fact, according to the American Transportation Research Institute’s 2017 survey of the most pressing issues in today’s trucking industry, the shortage of available parking ranked fourth, right behind the driver shortagethe ELD mandate, and Hours of Service.

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(Source: The American Transportation Research Institute) 

“We want the drivers to use some common sense, and they also should document it in their ELDs,” DeLorenzo said. “Also remember that it still is incumbent on the driver and carrier to make sure that the driver has adequate rest before operating a vehicle.”

FMCSA also addressed the issue of personal conveyance when it comes to furthering the direction of the current or next dispatch.

As a general rule of thumb, personal conveyance use is restricted for truck movement that furthers the direction of the current or next dispatch and is meant for personal use alone. 

However, the agency said it realizes “the driver may not be aware of the direction of the next dispatch and that in some instances the nearest safe resting location may be in the direction of that dispatch. If the driver proceeds to the nearest reasonable and safe location and takes the required rest, this would qualify as personal conveyance.”

If a driver uses personal conveyance in this way, he or she is advised to make evident on the log that he or she is unable to park at the nearest location and must go on to another location.

Since the May 31 changes, personal conveyance is also allowed when a safety official (like a police officer) makes the driver move the truck while he or she is off duty. FMCSA clarified this matter, stating that this specific use of personal conveyance should be “no farther than the nearest reasonable and safe area to complete the rest period.”

Although guidance changes aren’t yet finalized in the Federal Register, FMCSA has preemptively informed law enforcement of these latest developments.