Drowsy driving is a leading cause of truck accidents throughout the nation. If you have been in a truck accident, you understand just how devastating these accidents can be, as they can result in severe or disabling injuries, extensive property damage and even death. 

To reduce the number of preventable drowsy driving accidents involving big rigs, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration devised the Hours of Service manual. Though this manual applies to most truckers in most instances, the FMSCA provides a few exceptions. One such exception is the adverse driving conditions exception. 

The 11-hour driving limit

Per the Hours of Service rule, truck drivers may only drive 11 hours for every 14 consecutive “on-duty” hours. Once a driver hits the 11-hour mark, he or she must go off duty for 10 consecutive hours. The law requires drivers to take a 30-minute break for every eight consecutive hours on duty. For instance, if a driver starts driving immediately after going on-duty at 8:00 a.m., he or she must take a break at 4:00 p.m. He or she may then resume driving at 4:30 p.m. but must stop again at 7:30 p.m. for a full 10 hours. 

The adverse driving conditions exception

As you do when facing adverse driving conditions, truckers who encounter rough weather or roadblocks must slow down. For truckers, however, lost time could equate to lost income. To give these drivers a bit of leeway, the FMSCA grants drivers an extra two hours to cover the amount of mileage they could have driven in normal driving conditions. This means that instead of going off-duty after 11 hours of driving, truckers can complete 13 hours of driving. 

The FMSCA outlines what does and does not constitute “adverse driving conditions.” Such conditions are those that the driver did not know about when starting a haul, such as fog, snow and road closures due to accidents. They do not include obstacles a driver should have known about in advance, such as normal rush-hour traffic or previously posted road closures.