Impact of Adverse Driving Conditions on Hours of Service

With the winter season challenges fast approaching, it is wise to revisit how severe weather and adverse driving conditions may impact motor carrier operators and Hours-of-Service (HOS) rules set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

Extreme weather and adverse road conditions can require extra time. The FMCSA created an “Adverse Driving Conditions” exemption, which states: 49CFR Section 395.1 (b)

“If unexpected adverse driving conditions slow you down, you may drive up to 2 extra hours to complete what could have been driven in normal conditions. This means you could drive for up to 13 hours, which is 2 hours more than allowed under normal conditions. Adverse driving conditions mean things that you did not know about when you started your run, like snow,fog, or a shut-down of traffic due to a crash. Adverse driving conditions do not include situations that you should have known about, such as congested traffic during typical “rush hour” periods.

Even though you may drive 2 extra hours under this exception, you must not drive after the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, and you must comply with the minimum 30-minute rest break provisions.”

Property motor carriers cannot drive more than 11 hours during a 14-hour period. This means that drivers may drive up to 13 hours in adverse conditions.

Passenger motor carriers cannot drive more than 10 hours during a 15-hour period. This means that drivers may drive up to 12 hours in adverse conditions.

It is important to note that the adverse conditions exemption only applies to driving time. If the adverse driving conditions exemption is used, be sure that it is noted in a log book or electronically designated with a notation describing the circumstances.

Should your company be involved in an accident, please be reminded that The Lynch Law Group’s Rapid Response Team is available to assist. Our attorneys are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to assist in effective management and control of crisis situations. We are trained and available to respond to the accident scene, manage the post-accident investigation and defense for the representation of transportation accidents.

Frank Botta is Chair of the Firm’s Transportation Practice Group and serves as the lead truck defense attorney. He is an experienced transportation industry veteran and is a Past-President of the Transportation Lawyers Association (2017-2018). The Firm’s truck accident defensive group also includes Krista Kochosky, Michael Oliverio, and Lauren Mathews. We have been involved in serious accident and fatality defense litigation throughout Pennsylvania and Ohio.

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