The PC in Hours of Service

When most people think of PC, they think political correctness, but in the world of Hours-of-Service (HOS), PC means “personal conveyance.” It can be a vague topic, because there is no rule governing it, only guidance on what it is and how it can be used.

So what is the guidance for PC?
When a driver is relieved from work and all responsibility from performing work, time spent traveling from a driver’s home to his/her terminal (normal work reporting location), or from a driver’s terminal to his/her home, may be considered off-duty time. Similarly, time spent traveling short distances from a driver’s en route lodgings (such as en route terminals, truck stops, or motels) to restaurants in the vicinity of such lodgings may be considered off-duty time. The type of conveyance used from the terminal to the driver’s home, from the driver’s home to the terminal, or to restaurants in the vicinity of en route lodgings would not alter the situation unless the vehicle is laden or under dispatch. A driver may not operate a laden CMV as a personal conveyance. The driver who uses a motor carrier’s Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) for transportation home, and is subsequently called by the employing carrier and is then dispatched from home, would be on-duty from the time he or she leaves home. A driver placed out of service for exceeding the requirements of the hours-of-service regulations may not drive a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) to any location to obtain rest.
What does this mean and how do you apply it to your given situation?
The guidance really covers two examples, the drivers commute to and from the normal work location and short personal trips. It is clear the vehicle must be unladened and that driving is for a “short” distance. Also the driver must be relieved from all work responsibility. Given those examples, now you must apply the definition of “on-duty” and “off-duty.”  On-duty time means all time from the time a driver begins to work or is required to be in readiness to work until the time the driver is relieved from work and all responsibility for performing work.  Off-duty is when the driver is not on duty, is not required to be in readiness to work, or is not under any responsibility for performing work.
What are some real world examples?
You or your driver is sitting at a truck stop in the middle of the night and decides to get some food, however the nearest restaurant is up the road. Can you or your driver do this?  As long as the trailer is dropped, it is definitely possible to get the food and return back to the trailer. However, the vehicle must be unladened.
Say you or your driver does not like the rest area you are parked at, the decision is made to move the laden truck 10 miles up the road and park it at the truck stop. Is that move personal conveyance or driving?  This movement would be considered “driving” because the truck was laden. One of the most common abuses of PC is “advancing toward dispatch.” This is when a vehicle is unladen and the driver using PC to get to a destination to pick up a new load. This movement would be considered “driving” because the driver is en route to pick up a load, therefore not relieved from work and responsibility and was not used for personal use. It is the company’s responsibility to authorize or not the use of personal conveyance.  There should be clear policies in place and training provided. If your policy allows PC, the driver can choose to use personal conveyance at the start of the trip.
It seems as if the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has intentionally stayed away from defining PC in regulation; however, PC is vaguely addressed in the Electronic Logging Device Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (SNPRM).  When using personal conveyance the SNPRM provides for selection of a special driving category when a CMV is being driven but the time is not to be recorded as on-duty driving. There is no specific threshold of distance or time, but enforcement will use this information to ensure your drivers use PC appropriately. There are a number of comments to the SNPRM requesting further clarification from FMCSA on PC. Let’s hope they take this opportunity to clear up this vague and troubling topic in HOS. On the other hand, if you are traveling in Canada, Transport Canada has made it clear.  A commercial vehicle can be driven for personal use, if the vehicle has been unloaded, any trailers have been unhitched, the distance travelled does not exceed 75 km in a day, the odometer reading at the beginning and end of the personal use is recorded, and of course the driver is not the subject of an out-of-service declaration under section 91.
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