goMDnow Logo

As a truck driver, you may encounter situations where the weather or road conditions are worse than expected and affect your ability to complete your trip within the hours of service (HOS) rules. In such cases, you may be able to use the adverse driving conditions exception to extend your driving time and shift by up to two hours. However, there are some requirements and limitations that you need to be aware of before you apply this exception.

In this article:

What are adverse driving conditions?

How does the adverse driving conditions exception work?

How do you record the adverse driving conditions exception?

What are the benefits and risks of using the adverse conditions driving?

Conclusion

What are adverse driving conditions?

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), adverse driving conditions are defined as “snow, ice, sleet, fog, or other adverse weather conditions or unusual road or traffic conditions that were not known or could not reasonably be known, to a driver or dispatcher immediately before beginning the duty day or immediately before beginning driving after a qualifying rest break or sleeper berth period, or to a motor carrier immediately before dispatching the driver . This means that you can only use the exception if you encounter unexpected and unavoidable conditions that affect your normal driving time and route. You cannot use the exception if you or your dispatcher knew or should have known about the adverse conditions before you started your trip.

How does the adverse driving conditions exception work?

Adverse driving conditions FMCSA allows you to add up to two hours to your driving time and shift limit. For example, if you are a property-carrying driver, you can drive up to 13 hours during a maximum 16-hour shift, instead of the usual 11 hours during a 14-hour shift. However, you can only use the exception to complete the run or to reach a place offering safety. You cannot use the exception to start a new run or to make up for lost time. You also need to make sure that you have completed the run within the normal HOS limits under normal conditions. If that is not the case, you cannot use the exception.

Here are some scenarios where you can and cannot use the exception:

  • A sudden snowstorm that was not forecasted and that delays your trip by an hour. You can drive for an extra hour to finish your run or to find a safe place to park.
  • You cannot use the exception if you encounter regular rush hour traffic that was expected and that delays your trip by an hour. You cannot drive for an extra hour to make up for the lost time.
  • Can not use exception if come across a road closure due to an accident that was not known to you or your dispatcher and that forces you to take a longer route. You can drive for an extra hour to complete your run or to reach a safe place.
  • You cannot use the exception if you encounter a road closure due to construction that was known to you or your dispatcher and that forces you to take a longer route. You cannot drive for an extra hour to complete your run or to reach a safe place.

Must Read:

6 DOT requirements for truck drivers

What are the DOT VIOLATIONS?

How do you record the adverse driving conditions exception?

If you use the adverse driving conditions exception, you need to record it on your electronic logging device (ELD) or paper log. You need to indicate the specific nature of the adverse driving conditions and the reason for the delay. You also need to annotate the exception on your log by selecting the “adverse driving conditions” option on your ELD or writing “adverse driving conditions” on your paper log. You should also keep any supporting documents that can verify the adverse conditions, such as weather reports, road closure notices, or traffic reports.

Here are some examples of how to record the exception:

  • If you encounter a heavy fog that reduces your visibility and slows down your progress, you can write on your log: “Adverse driving conditions due to heavy fog. Delayed by 45 minutes.”
  • If you encounter a road closure due to an accident that forces you to take a detour, you can write on your log: “Adverse driving conditions due to road closure. Took a detour that added 30 miles and 1 hour to the trip.”
  • If you encounter a dust storm that creates a hazard for breathing and visibility, you can write on your log: “Adverse driving conditions due to dust storm. Pulled over at a rest area for safety. Waited for 1.5 hours until the storm passed.”

What are the benefits and risks of using the adverse conditions driving?

The adverse driving conditions exception can be a useful tool for drivers who face unexpected and unavoidable challenges on the road. It can help you avoid violating the HOS rules and prevent you from driving in unsafe conditions. It can also help you maintain your delivery schedule and customer satisfaction. However, there are also some risks and drawbacks of using the exception. For one thing, you may end up driving longer and later than usual, which can increase your fatigue and stress levels. You may also face more scrutiny and audits from the FMCSA or law enforcement officers, who may question your use of the exception and ask for proof. You may also face penalties or fines if you misuse the exception or fail to comply with the requirements.

Here are some tips on how to use the exception wisely and sparingly:

  1. Use the exception only when necessary and justified by the adverse conditions. Do not use it as an excuse to drive longer or faster than you should.
  2. Communicate with your dispatcher and inform them of the adverse conditions and your decision to use the exception. Get their approval and confirmation before you proceed.
  3. Document the exception properly and accurately on your log. Provide as much detail as possible and keep any supporting evidence.
  4. Drive safely and cautiously in adverse conditions. Do not take unnecessary risks or compromise your safety or the safety of others.
  5. Monitor your fatigue and alertness levels. If you feel too tired or impaired to drive, stop and take a break or a nap. Do not rely on the exception to push yourself beyond your limits.

More Information:

Drug Use on the Rise among Truck Drivers

From 18 Wheels to Freedom Life as a CDL Truck Driver

Conclusion

The adverse driving conditions exception is a helpful option for truck drivers who encounter unexpected and unavoidable challenges on the road. However, it is not a free pass to drive as long as you want or to ignore the HOS rules. You need to follow the requirements and limitations of the exception and record it properly on your log. You also need to weigh the benefits and risks of using the exception and make sure that you are driving safely and legally. Remember, the adverse driving conditions exception is meant to be an exception, not a rule. Use it wisely and sparingly.

References

mysafetymanager.com

fmcsa.dot.gov