Our Risk Consulting team has received several questions about Adverse Driving Conditions since the new HOS Rules went into effect on September 29, 2020. As a reminder, the changes to 49 CFR 395.1(b)(1) allow drivers to extend both their driving time and on-duty time by 2 hours for certain adverse driving conditions. Before the rule change, drivers could extend their driving time by 2 hours, but could not extend the 14-hour window. Thus, for qualifying events, drivers will now be allowed to drive for up to 13 hours within a 16-hour window. The key for you is determining what is a qualifying event.
Your drivers must fully understand that they absolutely cannot use this exception for routine weather or traffic delays. The delay must be due to an unexpected weather or traffic condition. The Adverse Driving Conditions exception cannot be used for delays due to normal rush-hour traffic, breakdowns, customer issues, or lack of available parking.
You and your drivers should exercise extreme caution when using the exception since allowable uses of the exception remain relatively narrow. You are still required to ensure the adverse driving conditions were not known at the time of dispatch. Remember, the use of this exception has always been rare, and it should continue to be so. Misuse of this exception will result in drivers placed OOS, accumulation of CSA points, customer relations damaged, and referrals for audits.
Most of the ELD providers programmed their ELDs with the ability to choose an Adverse Driving Conditions mode. Selection of that mode will automatically apply the new rule to your driver’s log. If not, the driver will need to make annotations to explain the use of the exception. A best practice would be to further document the delay in your files with a news article to independently corroborate the delay. This documentation could be invaluable during an audit.
If you have any questions or need any additional information, please let me know. Thank you for your kind attention to this information and your continued support of highway safety.