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Winter’s almost here. Do you know how to use the Adverse Driving Conditions Exception?


The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) made major changes in the fall of 2020 to an exemption designed to give truckers extra flexibility during snow, ice, and other adverse driving conditions.

On September 29, 2020, the FMCSA put several Hours of Service changes into effect, including updates to the “Adverse Driving Conditions Exception.”

How Does the Adverse Driving Conditions Exception Work Now?

Under the new rules, the adverse driving condition exception expands the driving window (both driving limit and on-duty limit) during adverse driving conditions (like flooding, wildfires, or hurricanes) by up to an additional 2 hours.

From FMCSA HOS Fact Sheet

Definition of “Adverse Driving Conditions” Now Includes Truck Driver

The definition of Adverse Driving Conditions also changed to place responsibility not just on the “person dispatching the run” but also on the truck driver.

Previous Definition: Adverse driving conditions means snow, sleet, fog, or 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.

New Definition: Adverse driving conditions means 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 immediately prior to beginning the duty day or immediately before beginning driving after a qualifying rest break or sleeper berth period, or a motor carrier immediately prior to dispatching the driver.

FMCSA HOS Fact Sheet

EXAMPLE OF ADVERSE DRIVING CONDITION EXCEPTION USE: A driver is 15 miles from his destination when there is a gravel spill on the bridge ahead (the bridge is the only access to the destination)

  • Driver has 1 hour left of driving time and 1 hour left in the driving day
  • Driver can stop at the next exit (for up to 2 hours) until the road is clear, and still have time to get to the destination without violating HOS rule

Safe Haven Is For Hazmat Only

A rule that did not change but is often misunderstood is the Safe Haven Rule, which is often confused for the Adverse Driving Conditions Exemption.

The Safe Haven rule is located in the eCFR 397.5 section ‘Attendance and surveillance of motor vehicles’ and applies only to certain hazmat drivers.

For additional information from the FMCSA on the Safe Haven rule, please click here.


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