How Do Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations Define On and Off-Duty Time?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) define on-duty time as “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 the work.” This on-duty time includes:

  1. All time at a plant, terminal facility, or other property of a motor carrier or shipper, or on any public property, waiting to be dispatched, unless the driver has been relieved from duty by his or her employer.
  2. All time inspecting, servicing, or conditioning any CMV at any time.
  3. All CMV driving time.
  4. All-time in or on a CMV, other than: time spent resting in or on a parked vehicle, time spent resting in a sleeping berth, or up to two hours riding in the passenger seat of a property-carrying vehicle moving on the highway immediately before or after a period of at least 8 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth.
  5. All time related to unloading or loading a CMV.
  6. All time repairing, obtaining assistance, or remaining in attendance upon a disabled CMV.
  7. All time spent providing a breath or urine specimen (including the time traveling to the collection site).
  8. Performing any other work in the capacity, employ, or service of a motor carrier.
  9. Performing any compensated work for a person who is not a motor carrier.

It is noteworthy to mention that the FMCSRs do not explicitly define “off-duty” but it generally includes the 3 exceptions mentioned above (resting in a parked vehicle, sleeping berth, two hours in the passenger seat).

How Do The FMCSRs Define an Accident?

The regulations define an accident as an occurrence involving a commercial motor vehicle on a highway in interstate or intrastate commerce which results in any of the following:

  • A fatality
  • An injury to a person requiring immediate treatment away from the scene of the accident
  • Disabling damage to any vehicle requiring it to be towed from the scene.

Furthermore, the term “accident” does not include an occurrence which involves only:

  • boarding or existing from a stationary vehicle
  • the loading or unloading of a vehicle’s cargo
  • Or the operation of a non-CMV passenger car by a motor carrier, as long as passengers are not being transported for-hire.

To further clarify the definition, the regulations define highway, fatality, and disabling damage. The regulations define a highway as any road, street, or way (whether on public or private property) open to public travel– open public travel means the road of way is available and passable by four-wheel standard passenger cars and is open to the general public.

Additionally, a fatality is defined as any injury that results in the death of a person at the time of the accident or within 30 days of the accident. Lastly, disabling damage is defined as vehicle damage that prevents a vehicle from leaving the scene of the accident in its usual manner in daylight after simple repairs.

After a driver has been in an accident, the employer motor carrier must maintain an accident register for three years after the date of each accident. The information included in the accident register must include the date of accident, city or town where the accident occurred and the state where the accident occurred, the driver’s name, the number of injuries and fatalities, and whether hazardous materials other than fuel spilled from the fuel tanks.

It’s also important to note that employer motor carriers are NOT required to report CMV accidents to the FMCSA.