Everything you need to know about the new adverse conditions rule

Flexibility with hours of service has always been hard to come by for many truckers, as they only had a handful of options to use in years past.

However, with the new set of hours of service rules that went into effect on Sep. 29, truckers are believed to have gained a plethora of new flexibility. 

While the rules included some much-needed changes to breaks and the split-sleeper rule, it also included an update to the adverse conditions rule.

The original rule stated that, when driving in adverse conditions, drivers could add an additional two hours to their driving time, taking them from 11 hours to 13. 

However, there were two issues with this. One, it did not add an additional two hours to a driver's on-duty time, keeping it at 14 hours. Two, what should be considered an adverse condition was not specified either. 

This caused a lot of confusion amongst drivers, as they did not know when the rule could be applied, which meant that many received violations for attempting to use it as they saw fit. 

These issues ultimately led to the FMCSA updating its regulation, as they’ve now clarified when the rule can be applied.

The new rule, in addition to adding two hours of driving time, also expands a driver's on-duty time from 14 hours to 16. This is a huge win for truckers, as they don’t have to worry about only having a single hour left of on-duty time upon finishing their hours of service.

Additionally, the FMCSA now clearly states when the adverse driving conditions rule can be applied. Per Land Line Magazine, “adverse conditions can be defined as snow, ice, sleet, fog, or other adverse weather conditions or unusual road or traffic conditions that couldn’t be reasonably known to a driver before the start of the on-duty period or immediately after a rest period, and to a motor carrier before dispatching the driver.”

While the rule now provides some much-needed examples of what adverse conditions can be, there is still some wiggle room for potential misinterpretation. When they mention “other adverse weather conditions or unusual road or traffic conditions,” what does that really mean?

If you had to wait hours for hundreds of ducks to cross a road, would it still be okay to use the rule? Or what if some oil was spilled on the road and you didn’t feel it was safe to drive over it, could that still be a proper way of applying the rule?

There’s no way to be sure, really. However, in Land Line’s breakdown of the rule, they mentioned that a key to the provision, per the OOIDA Foundation, was the “unforeseen” portion.

Nevertheless, one cannot deny that the rule has been greatly improved. With these clearer guidelines, drivers should now be able to benefit from the adverse conditions rule without having to worry about receiving a violation. However, now that the ELD mandate is also in full effect, how can this be reflected in your ELD?

For GPSTab customers, it will be as easy as clicking an Adverse Conditions button, which will enable the rule to go into effect. To learn more about that, you can click here.

GPSTab has also collaborated with FreightWaves to create an infographic breaking down the updated adverse conditions rule.

So, what do you think about the updated rule? Let us know in the comments or on social media!