How to Use the Adverse Driving Conditions Exemption

Christa Krajewski

NOVEMBER 9, 2017 – From catastrophic hurricanes to wildfires, there has been a lot of weather-related news this fall. First and foremost, we recognize the brutal consequences, including the loss of lives and homes, that can be caused by severe weather.

With that in mind, and with the winter season fast approaching, we thought now would be a good time to address how severe weather and adverse driving conditions may impact motor carrier operations and the Hours-of-Service (HOS) rules.

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FMCSA Definition

The FMCSA defines adverse driving conditions as: “snow, sleet, fog, other adverse weather conditions, a highway covered with snow or ice, or unusual road and traffic conditions, none of which were apparent on the basis of information known to the person dispatching the run at the time it was begun.”

So, while this may include an unexpected snow storm or a traffic delay due to a crash, it doesn’t include time sitting in traffic due to normal, rush hour congestion.

HOS Exemption Due to Adverse Driving Conditions

If any of the conditions described above exist, drivers may continue driving until the intended destination is reached or until they are able to safely reach a secure location, but for no more than two extra hours.

It is important that drivers notate their log when using the exemption. They must also provide as much detail as possible.

Maximum Driving Times

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’s important to note that the adverse conditions exemption only applies to driving time. This means that no matter what conditions exist, property motor carriers cannot drive after having been on duty for 14 consecutive hours and passenger motor carriers cannot drive after having been on duty for 15 consecutive hours.

Questions, concerns or comments? Leave them in the comments section below!

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106 thoughts on “How to Use the Adverse Driving Conditions Exemption”

    1. Hi Greg, do you have some paperwork that shows the engine year? You don’t need to keep it in your truck, but it should be easily accessible in your office if you need it

  1. Hi Lindsey, Appreciate the article and all of your responses. My questions is if a Driver can use the adverse driving conditions rule on a breakdown. Such as if the driver had a flat tire that delayed him.

    1. Hi Dave, Although all of the definitions of the exemption seem to speak to unforseen weather/traffic delays, the regulation itself is pretty vague. This is how the FMCSA defines a qualifying emergency:

      “(2) Emergency conditions. In case of any emergency, a driver may complete his/her run without being in violation of the provisions of the regulations in this part, if such run reasonably could have been completed absent the emergency.”

      I would interpret this to mean that an unexpected flat tire would count, but since there’s no specific guidance from the FMCSA on this specific usage, it would be up to the interpretation of the enforcement official. From what I can see, it looks like some drivers avoid using the exemption for that very reason.

  2. While we’re all happy to know that Hao is with his family, please keep in mind that his situation may still be very precarious. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that the worst is behind Hao and his family, and that they can all start to recuperate.

  3. So if I am an out-and-back daily driver, driving 11 hours and on duty 14 hours….. and hit an unexpected ice storm. I can extend my driving to 13 hours, and also use the 16 hour rule to get back to the terminal that day. Right?

    1. Hi Yohan, Correct. The adverse driving conditions exemption gives you two extra hours – so that would be 13 hours of drive time and 16 hours of on-duty time for the day.

      1. Lindsey, you have been very helpful to many people, and i highly appreciate that.
        could you please tell if the 16 hour rule that you said can be used in adverse conditions, is what we call 16 hour short haul exception? Because 16 hours short haul exception is only allowed in the following conditions.

        Drivers can use the 16-hour exception if all of the following occur:

        The driver returns to their work reporting location for that day as well as their last 5 workdays
        The driver is released from work after coming On Duty within 16 hours
        The driver has not used the 16-hour exception in the previous 6 consecutive days (unless they have used the 34-hour break to restart their weekly cycle)

        1. Hi Steven, Correct, it’s the short haul exemption. It would be tricky to use them together, but from what I’ve seen in the regulations, there’s nothing that says you can’t. So for example, if you went out for the day with the intention of using the 16 hour exemption, and got caught in a sudden snow storm, you’d have the ability to extend your driving time by an additional two hours. That would give you up to 13 hours to reach your work reporting location instead of the standard 11 hours.

  4. Just to be clear on the adverse driving rule; I was under the impression that the 16 hour exemption rule and adverse driving rule couldn’t be used together; one or the other. So you’re saying they can be used together? I’m also a local driver

  5. I was under the impression that you could only use one of the exemptions; either the adverse driving or the 16 hour rule. But not both together. In other words, “local” drivers can use the 16 hour exemption 1 once per week, not to exceed 11 hours driving, and adverse driving extended driving to 13 hours, not to exceed 14 hours total. Is this right?

  6. We really need to have these exemptions spelled out and across all the states as I asked CT DMV CMV Safety Division about this and was told in no uncertain terms that weather that is predicted does NOT make the exemption usable. This was after sitting on I-95 south-exit 15 NY last night for 2 hours due to GW Bridge icing/spin outs/overheating vehicles/running out of fuel/drivers sleeping/etc. Some were there for 5 hours. Companies should figure on traffic snarls due to the weather predicted.

    1. I have a question. So I had 3 days of adverse conditions in this 8 days. Im now short 1.5 hours to get back into Canada where it is 70 in 7. Can anything be done?

  7. How does dot want this noted? Simply “Adverse conditions” would you have the fmcsa statute number by chance.
    Thankyou very helpful

    1. Hi John, Yes, a simple notation like the one you mentioned would be appropriate. This regulation is found in Section 395.1(b). I copied this directly from the FMCSA regulations:

      (b) Driving conditions—(1) Adverse driving conditions. Except as provided in paragraph (h)(2) of this section, a driver who encounters adverse driving conditions, as defined in §395.2, and cannot, because of those conditions, safely complete the run within the maximum driving time permitted by §§395.3(a) or 395.5(a) may drive and be permitted or required to drive a commercial motor vehicle for not more than 2 additional hours beyond the maximum time allowed under §§395.3(a) or 395.5(a) to complete that run or to reach a place offering safety for the occupants of the commercial motor vehicle and security for the commercial motor vehicle and its cargo.

        1. Hi Gerardo, As long as you’re using the adverse driving conditions exemption, you’ll be fine. Otherwise, you could get a violation.

    1. Hi Jerry, You can use the adverse conditions exemption to get yourself a few extra hours of time. If that’s not enough, I would pull over and go off-duty as soon as possible and then navigate to a safe place (using personal conveyance) to rest for the remainder of the 10-hour mandatory off-duty period.

      1. Actually, Personal Conveyance can only be used to reach a safe haven if a driver’s hours are exhausted while at a shipper/receiver, and the driver is not allowed to take the appropriate 10-hour break on the premises. In which case, Personal Conveyance can be used to make it to the next closest safe haven.

  8. If a CMV driver is stuck in traffic and the road is shutdown due to bad weather can a driver log off duty or sleeper berth?

    For example:

    I-44 in Missouri is shutdown due to bad weather and accidents. Hundreds of cars and commercial vehicles are stuck for over 10 hours.

    Can the truck drivers log off duty or sleeper berth at the beginning of the shutdown?

    1. Hi Melissa, I wasn’t able to find anything that speaks to this exact condition, but if you’re able to pull over safely and turn the engine off, I would consider that off-duty time. You can use the adverse driving exemption to give you a few extra hours behind the wheel if you need it.

  9. I am 8 miles from destination. Very high winds and blowing snow kept me from making it . In that situation can I use adverse weather to be 5 minutes or 5 miles late on my 30 minutes break after 8 hrs of driving?

    1. The adverse conditions exemption only applies to the 10-hour rule, so I don’t believe it can be used in this case. If there’s no safe place for you to pull over and take a 30 minute break, the fact that you were stuck in poor weather conditions may get you some leniency if you are stopped. That would be at the discretion of the inspector, however.

    1. The FMCSA defines a Safe Haven as a designated area, approved by local, state or federal authorities, where a hazmat driver may park and leave his/her vehicle unattended. When the truck is parked outside of a Safe Haven, such as on a public street or highway, the driver must legally attend to it.

      Safe haven is also a term used, industry wide, to depict a reasonalbe place to stop for a break, or the night.

  10. Hello! This morning, near the end of my run I came into dense fog that was not on the forecast when I planned my trip prior to departing. I decided to use the exemption when I had to slow my progress considerably. Instead of having 10 to 15 minutes of remaining drive time as I do almost every day with similar (more and less) mileage, I was 4 minutes into violation. I noted adverse conditions, dense fog, and low visibility. Shoulder unsafe, proceeding to intended destination per fmcsa regulations. Was I correct in using that? I’ve never had to use it before. I usually shut down when I hit inclement weather. Crawling doesn’t pay as much as running wide open. However, my intended destination was around 15 miles away with no other places to stop between myself and there.

    1. Hi Pavel, If you go to the Big Road website, or call their customer service team, they should be able to help. Unfortunately, I don’t have specifics on each ELD provider.

  11. Lindsey, what if there was road construction that was unforeseen that detoured the driver? Is the detour considered adverse?

    1. Hi Wes, Yes, that would count! As long as the conditions were unforeseen, the adverse conditions exemption would apply.

  12. Hey Lindsey, I’ve seen this happen multiple times. I know many hazmat drivers, and they are 30 minutes from their destination when they get stuck in traffic from a wreck for 3 hours. They had had 2 hours left on their 11 and 14 to make it this last 30 minutes. But now they are stuck on the highway, over their 14 hour limit and cant legally park on the side of the road. What are they supposed to do?

    1. Hi Kevin, In this case, they would be able to use the adverse conditions exemption, which would give them up to 13 hours of drive time for the day. If that puts them over their 14 hours, they can use personal conveyance to find a safe place to park. In order to use personal conveyance legally, however, the driver must go to the nearest, safe place to park – even if it’s in the opposite direction of their next work-related stop: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/docs/regulations/hours-service/405201/list-proper-uses-personal-conveyance.pdf

    1. Hi Rich, While the adverse conditions exemption is available to anyone, the 16-hour short haul exemption is for local drivers only.

  13. Hi, I’m a local driver who uses up my 14hr clock being mostly on duty and not driving. Can I use the 2hr adverse weather exemption on top of 14hrs because I’m stuck due to road closure (accident) and cant get to the the exit 1.5miles ahead of me to start my 10hr break.

  14. First you said that the 2 xtra hours is only for driving time and not for on duty and later you say that you can do 16 hours on duty , a bit confusing for me

  15. There is a lot of confusion in my terminal about off-duty personal conveyance usage. As I understand it if I drop my trailer at yard a I can go off duty personal conveyance to a local motel and when it is time for me to go back on duty I can go off duty personal conveyance back to that yard and then go on duty grab my trailer and go. Is that right? Exit right

  16. I have a question. So I had 3 days of adverse conditions in this 8 days. Im now short 1.5 hours to get back into Canada where it is 70 in 7. Can anything be done?

  17. Hey hi.. i have a question im new to this … the company i work for… alway have me go over my 14… just because i made it at the customer with 10 minutes on my 14 clock and use personal convenience to leave the customer and find parking … i think we can do that if was a emergency but not to offten… can they do that? Or can I report it

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