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Wednesday, February 1, 2023

FMCSA Clarifies Guidance On Transportation of Agricultural Commodities, Personal Conveyance

 

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced new regulatory guidance clarifying the longstanding 150 air-miles hours-of-service agricultural commodity exemption as well as providing additional explanatory detail of the “personal conveyance” provision.

“Due to input from commercial vehicle stakeholders and the public, the Department has taken steps to provide greater clarity and flexibility regarding the intent and effect of these regulations, for the agricultural and other sectors,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao.

Motor carriers are allowed to authorize drivers to use a commercial motor vehicle while off-duty for personal conveyance. This must be documented in a driver’s logs, whether electronic or on paper. The new guidance focuses on the reason the driver is operating the commercial vehicle while off-duty, without regard to whether it’s loaded or not. This opens it up to the ability to be used by drivers who run out of legal driving hours while delayed at a shipper or receiver so they can get to the nearest reasonable safe place to park, explained Joe DeLorenzo, director of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance.

“Previously we had said, ‘Do the best you can, but it’ll put you in hours violation,’” DeLorenzo said. “But when you analyze why you are making that move – to get to a safe location to get your required rest – that can be done during personal conveyance. Say I get woken up in the middle of the night because law enforcement wants me to move my truck. Again, the purpose of that movement is not to advance the load or get closer to where you’re going; the purpose is to get somewhere safe in order to take rest.”

More information on this subject can be found at can be found at www.fmcsa.dot.gov/personal-conveyance-guidance.

The agency also created guidance to explain the 150 air-mile radius agricultural commodity exemption and how the “source” of the commodity is determined.

DeLorenzo explained that the 150-air-mile exception had no previous guidance, and the ELD rules have prompted a number of questions the agency felt needed to be addressed.

There appears to be two main issues of clarification: What time is counted for those taking advantage of this exception; and what constitutes the “source” from which the radius is calculated. For a copy of this guidance, see: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/ag-commodity-guidance.