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FMCSA seeks to clarify how ‘yard moves’ affect HOS

Jan. 5, 2021
The agency wants to clarify when a driver can complete a yard move as part of the driver’s on-duty time that does not count as driving time. To do this, FMCSA is seeking comments to help define what is considered a ‘yard.’

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) proposes clarifying regulatory guidance over how yard moves affect commercial drivers’ hours of service by officially defining what constitutes a “yard.”

In a notice published in the Federal Register on Jan. 4, the FMCSA looks to clarify when a driver can complete a yard move as part of the driver’s on-duty time that does not count as driving time. The agency seeks public comments on the proposed guidance, which includes defining what properties should be considered “yards.” Commercial vehicle movements in “yards” would be considered “yard moves” and could be recorded as on-duty, not driving time for any drivers required to record HOS, according to the filing.

The Federal Highway Administration, FMCSA’s predecessor agency, issued guidance on ‘‘yard moves’’ in 1997 that stated: “a driver who jockeys CMVs in the yard (private property) on weekends should record that time as on-duty (driving) time.” However, the 1997 guidance is no longer in effect because of the electronic logging device (ELD) rules that superseded it last decade. FMCSA’s revised 2020 guidance stipulates that the time moving trucks in the yard is not driving time, so the driver should record that time as on-duty (not driving) time. 

The 2020 updated guidance follows the ELD rules’ principle that time spent performing ‘‘yard moves’’ should be recorded as on-duty, not driving time, according to FMCSA. Because ‘‘yard moves’’ occur on private property within the confines of a yard and not on a public road, this time does not constitute ‘‘driving time,’’ according to the updated guidance. FMCSA is looking to clarify to the public how these existing yard-move rules work within existing regulations. 

Drivers required to document HOS (either with an ELD or using paper logs) have four duty status options to choose from: sleeper berth; off-duty; driving; and on-duty, not driving. According to the filing, a yard move occurs in a confined area on private property or within an intermodal facility or briefly on public roads. 

Examples of properties that may qualify as yards include, but are not limited to: 

  1. An intermodal yard or port facility. 
  2. A motor carrier’s place of business. 
    1. A shipper’s privately-owned parking lot. 
      1. A public road — but only if and while public access to the road is restricted through traffic control measures such as lights, gates, flaggers or other means. For example, if a driver must operate on a public road briefly to reach different parts of private property, the movement may be considered a yard move if public access is restricted during the move. 

        Examples of properties that do not qualify as yards include but are not limited to public roads without the traffic control measures and public rest areas. 

        The deadline for comments is Feb. 3. In addition to general comments on the guidance, the FMCSA is seeking responses to the following questions: 

        1. Would defining ‘‘yard moves’’ in the agency’s regulations provide necessary clarification and benefit carriers and drivers? 
        2. Are there other properties or situations where drivers may be in a ‘‘yard move’’ status that should be included as examples in this guidance? 
          1. Would adding examples of ‘‘yard moves’’ be beneficial for this guidance (e.g., moving a CMV for maintenance)? If so, please provide examples for consideration. 
            1. How should ‘‘yard’’ be defined for this guidance?

              If finalized, the proposed regulatory guidance would be posted on FMCSA’s website in the guidance portal and be reviewed by the agency no later than 5 years after it is finalized. FMCSA would consider at that time whether the guidance should be withdrawn, reissued for another period up to 5 years, or incorporated into the safety regulations. 

              About the Author

              Josh Fisher | Editor-in-Chief

              Editor-in-Chief Josh Fisher has been with FleetOwner since 2017, covering everything from modern fleet management to operational efficiency, artificial intelligence, autonomous trucking, regulations, and emerging transportation technology. He is based in Maryland. 

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