Trucking’s “Adverse Driving Conditions Exception” ExplainedOver the summer, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued final rules on its Hours of Service (HOS) policies for truckers. These regulations, which went into effect in September, make four revisions to the current HOS rules and address many concerns voiced by truckers during the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. These changes aim to increase truck driver efficiency and flexibility without compromising safety to drivers and safety to the public.

“This new final rule will improve safety for all motorists and increase flexibility for America’s truckers,” Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao told the press. “It has been guided by the feedback that we have received from truckers, carrier safety advocates, law enforcement and also concerned residents and citizens.”

Now that winter and snowy, icy weather is approaching here in North Dakota, we thought it would be a good time to take a closer look at the specific HOS update to the Adverse Driving Conditions Exception and how it affects truckers.

How does the Adverse Driving Conditions Exception work?

The changes to the HOS Adverse Driving Conditions Exception gives commercial truck drivers extra time to complete their routes after experiencing unexpected delays caused by weather or traffic conditions. It expands their driving window by up to two hours. For example, drivers with a maximum driving window of 14 hours can use the exception rule and drive for 16 hours if their drive was delayed due to bad weather.

The difference between the old rule and the new rule is that before, drivers could extend their driving limit, but not their on-duty limit, by two hours. Now, under the new rule, they can extend both.

These expanded hours allow eligible drivers to wait out adverse or unexpected weather and traffic conditions, rather than risking a truck accident to try and complete their run before the weather hits. The extra “on-duty” time gives driver a cushion to make proper safety decisions regarding their route.

However, truck dispatchers and drivers should always be reasonably aware of weather conditions before starting a run. The Adverse Driving Conditions Exception can only be used for unexpected delays and not for routine traffic jams, predicted weather or vehicle breakdowns.

The FMCSA provides an HOS Fact Sheet summarizing all the changes and updates.

At Larson Law Firm, P.C., we represent victims of truck accidents in North Dakota. If you suffered injury in an accident with a commercial truck, we help seek compensation for your losses and damages. To arrange a free consultation, call us in Minot or Bismarck today at 701.484.HURT or complete our contact form.