Even in the early days of paper HOS logs, personal conveyance and yard moves were familiar categories. Billions of miles and hours have been classified under the two categories since 1937. However, when it came to defining each for the new world of mandatory electronic logging, difficulties arose.
The result: Definitions around yard moves and personal conveyance have largely been left to the carriers themselves.
However, both are still subject to enforcement in relation to HOS regulations. That means it’s important to know the concerns around both yard moves and personal use before defining them and forming policies.
A “Personal” Problem
When it comes to personal use, FMCSA enforcement official Joe DeLorenzo keeps things simple.
He states miles driven not under the direction of the dispatch are to be considered personal conveyance. He insists on staying out of policy particulars beyond that broad definition.
By DeLorenzo’s formula, drivers making their way from the depot to their homes (or motels) after a day’s work should tabulate the miles under “personal use.” For carriers who allow personal use at all (there’s no requirement that they do), this seems a clear case for the category. The gray area comes in the morning – when a new day of driving starts.
It could be argued that miles from the driver’s overnight home to the depot should be considered actual driven miles, and not personal conveyance. Miles driven from depot to depot – even without a load – might be considered the same. In each case, the driving is happening at direction of dispatch, and supposedly to benefit the company’s bottom line more than the driver’s personal well-being.
The FMCSA wants to keep personal use personal. That explains why when an ELD is placed in “personal use” mode, the precision of its location tracking decreases from a one- to a 10-mile radius. This helps preserve some measure of privacy.
The Invisible Yard
What constitutes a “yard” in relation to a yard move?
During ELD rule hearings, many attempts were made to define a “yard” as a particular space. In the end, the FMCSA declined to issue a hard and fast definition. A “yard” can be defined as the physical area around each depot, a public waterfront near a harbor, a customer’s parking lot, or really, almost any area at all.
A “yard” could encompass miles of public road. This was recognized as a risk during hearings.
One safeguard against abuse of both the yard moves and personal-use definitions: ELD automatically tracks every mile driven. Flout the spirit of the law and be prepared for massive penalties when enforcement asks to see the logs. The ELD sees everything, and never forgets.
The FMCSA did their best to accommodate differences between carriers in the vast American trucking industry. During the hearings, large carriers made attempts to force definitions that worked for them. The FMCSA declined to accept these out of concern for other fleets and owner-operators.
Thus, the definitions are largely up to each company. Fleets can decide whether or not to offer “personal use,” and the policies around it. They can also define what a “yard” is, and thus define a “yard move.” The FMCSA wants to encourage maximum ELD compliance, and that means staying flexible.
Just make sure your policy is consistent, well-documented, well-communicated, and serves the greater purpose of improving road safety.
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