Here’s what you need to know about the adverse driving conditions exception.
Where there are rules, there are often exceptions.
And that’s true for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s hours of service rules. The HOS exception that we’ll be covering in this article has to do with adverse driving conditions.
Keep reading to learn what the adverse conditions exception is and when you can use it to extend both your shift and your driving time.
HOS Rules Recap
If you drive a commercial motor vehicle, chances are you’re required to follow HOS rules. Under the rules, drivers of property-carrying trucks can drive up to 11 hours during a maximum 14-hour shift. Drivers must keep a record of their duty status and, in most cases, are required to use an electronic logging device to do it.
For our discussion about the adverse driving conditions exemption, we’ll focus on the shift and driving time aspects of HOS; taking into account the latest changes to the HOS rules that took effect September 2020. Also, check out this summary from the FMCSA for more detailed information about the HOS rules, including driving breaks and the sleeper berth provision.
What is the Adverse Driving Conditions Exception?
Anyone who spends as much time driving as a trucker knows that there is seldom a typical day on the road. Things like weather events, wildfires and unforeseen accidents can disrupt your schedule and put you at risk of being out of compliance with HOS shift- and driving-time rules. That’s where the adverse conditions exception comes into play.
The adverse driving conditions exception allows you to add up to two hours to your shift and driving time – extending their shift to a maximum 16 hours and your driving time to a maximum of 13 – to “complete the run or to reach a place offering safety,” according to the FMCSA.
So, if a road is closed due to icy conditions, you can add two extra hours to figure out a new route and finish you’re run safely.
Using the Adverse Conditions Exception
There are limits to the adverse driving conditions exception.
First, the adverse conditions exception can only be used to finish a run if, under normal circumstances, it could have been completed during a 14-hour shift and 11 hours of driving. If that’s not the case, you cannot use the exception.
Second, the FMCSA says the exception can be used only when the conditions “were not known, or could not reasonably be known, to a driver or dispatcher immediately prior to beginning the duty day or immediately before beginning driving.” If the conditions were known ahead of time, the exception can’t be applied.
Bottom line: If your run could have been completed within HOS under normal conditions and you or your dispatcher had no prior knowledge of potential adverse driving conditions, you can apply the exception
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