Commercial drivers can be exempt from some Hours-of-Service rules if certain conditions are met. These exceptions are generally related to the 30-minute rest break, 14-hour period, and 11-hour rule. We break it down for you to lessen the confusion (and frustration).
To ensure road safety, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has developed several Hours-of-Service rules and regulations. The goal of these HOS rules is to minimize driver fatigue and improve safety for everyone on the road.
Although the rules are straight-forward, there are also some exceptions that drivers and fleet managers should be aware of. There are four such Hours-of-Service exceptions.
But first, here’s a quick recap of the important Hours-of-Service rules.
1. What is the 14-hour rule?
According to the 14-hour rule, a property-carrying driver may not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty. The driver can’t resume driving unless he/she has taken 10 consecutive hours off-duty.
For passenger-carrying motor vehicles, the limit is 15 cumulative hours.
For both property-carrying and passenger-carrying vehicles, off-duty time does not extend the 14-hour period.
2. What is the 11-hour rule?
The 11-hour rule states that within the 14-hour window, a property-carrying driver can drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty.
Passenger-carrying drivers can drive up to 10 hours after eight consecutive hours off duty.
3. What is the 30-minute break rule?
According to the 30-minute break rule, drivers can’t log driving time if eight hours have passed since the last off-duty period of 30 consecutive minutes. Drivers can perform non-driving tasks after eight hours without taking a break, but they cannot drive.
Let’s discuss the various Hours-of-Service exceptions that are available to property-carrying and passenger-carrying drivers.
HOS exemption #1: The 30-minute break exception
Two categories of drivers are exempt from the 30-minute break rule:
- Short-haul drivers who qualify for the 100 air-mile radius provision.
- Short-haul drivers who qualify for the 150 air-mile radius provision and operate non-CDL vehicles.
HOS exemption #2: The 16-hour short-haul exception
The 16-hour short-haul exception allows qualifying drives to extend the 14-hour driving window to 16 hours once every seven consecutive days.
A property-carrying driver can use this exception if:
- The driver has returned to the driver’s normal work reporting location, and the carrier released the driver from duty at that location for the previous five duty tours the driver has worked;
- The driver has returned to the normal work reporting location, and the carrier releases the driver from duty within 16 hours after coming on duty following 10 consecutive hours off duty; and
- The driver has not taken this exemption within the previous six consecutive days, except when the driver has begun a new seven or eight-consecutive day period with the beginning of any off-duty period of 34 or more consecutive hours as allowed by §395.3(c).
Drivers who use the 16-hour short-haul exception cannot use the non-CDL 150 air-mile exemption.
HOS exemption #3: Adverse driving conditions
The “adverse driving conditions” exemption allows drivers to extend the maximum driving limit by two hours when certain conditions are met.
When is the adverse driving conditions exemption applicable?
This exemption only works when the adverse driving conditions could not have been known before the driver started driving.
Circumstances include weather changes, such as unexpected fog or snow or the closure of a road due to unforeseen events, such as an accident.
The exemption would not be applicable if the driver had previous knowledge of the adverse driving conditions or could have known of the conditions through basic trip planning or common sense. For example, a forecasted blizzard or rush hour traffic would not meet the conditions necessary for this exemption to be valid.
How does the adverse driving conditions exemption affect property-carrying drivers?
Property-carrying drivers can drive a maximum of 11 hours per shift. The adverse driving conditions exemption extends the 11-hour driving limit to 13 hours.
This exemption does not extend the 14-hour driving period. It means that all 13 hours of driving must still be completed within the 14-hour window.
How does the adverse driving conditions exemption affect passenger-carrying drivers?
Passenger-carrying drivers can drive a maximum of 10 hours per shift. The adverse driving conditions exemption extends the 10 hours of drive time to 12 hours.
Again, this exemption does not extend the 15-hour driving period for passenger-carrying drivers.
HOS exemption #4: Direct emergency assistance
A CMV driver has to comply with all Hours-of-Service regulations. However, in emergency situations, some or all Hours-of-Service rules can be temporarily lifted.
Who is exempt under the emergency conditions exception?
Section 395.1(b)(2) states that in case of an 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.
How to know when the emergency conditions exemption is applicable?
Emergency conditions are declared by the President, state governors, and/or the FMCSA. If an official federal or state institution has not acknowledged an emergency state, the exemption is not applicable.
Drivers should always first check with federal and/or state officials.
Here is a list of active emergency declarations.
Knowing these Hours-of-Service rules and exceptions will allow you to stay compliant and plan your operations more efficiently.
If you have any questions, call (844) 257-6396 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.