CMV Law: HOS Rules & Exceptions

Application and Exceptions: Overview

Unless a specific exception applies, the HOS rules found in Part 395 apply to all motor carriers and drivers. There are over twenty possible exceptions.  Most, but not all, of those exceptions will preempt any contrary or conflicting state law or regulation governing the safe operation of CMVs.Regulation specifying that the exceptions applicable to CMVs involved in ground water well drilling operations and the transportation of construction materials and equipment will not preempt state law.

Application of HOS Rules & Exceptions

The primary exceptions to the HOS rules of part 395 that most frequently arise are as follows:

1. Adverse driving conditions create a limited exception from HOS requirements.  If a driver encounters adverse conditions as they are defined at  as “adverse driving conditions” as “snow, sleet, fog, 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.” and cannot finish the trip within the maximum allowed time, then the driver is allowed up to two extra hours to complete the run or reach a place offering safety for the occupants of the CMV and the security of the CMV and its cargo.This exception is itself subject to exceptions, such as:
a. a prohibition from driving under the guise of this exception:
a.i. for property-carrying vehicles:
a.i.A. without first taking ten consecutive hours off duty before the start of a work shift
a.i.B. for a total of more than fourteen hours after the ten consecutive hours off duty
a.ii. for passenger-carrying vehicles:
a.ii.A. for more than ten hours after eight consecutive hours off duty
a.ii.B. for any period after having been on duty for fifteen hours after eight consecutive hours off duty

2. Emergency conditions.  This exception allows the run to be completed without causing a violation of the HOS rules “if such run reasonably could have been completed absent the emergency.” Significantly, what constitutes an “emergency” is not specifically defined.  However, the USDOT has specified certain situations that will not constitute an emergency, such as: “a driver’s desire to get home, shippers’ demands, market declines, shortage of drivers, or mechanical failures.”
a. An “absolute prerequisite” before either the adverse driving conditions or the emergency conditions exception will apply is that “the trip involved is one which could normally and reasonably have been completed without a violation and that the unforeseen event occurred after the driver began the trip.”

3. Short-haul operations.  Drivers involved in short-haul operations are not required to maintain daily driver’s logs. The various rules used to determine that a driver is involved in an exempted short-haul operation are numerous and lengthy.
a. Generally, a driver that operates within a 100 air-mile radius (i.e., nautical miles) of his normal work reporting location, returns to that location and is released from work within twelve hours (unless the driver is a driver-salesperson), and complies with the relevant on duty / off duty HOS rules applicable to what they are transporting will be considered a short-haul operator and thus exempt from the daily log requirements.
b. Also, drivers who transport property using a type of CMV that does not require the driver to possess a CDL are exempt from the log requirements. § 395.1(e)(2)   However, there are still recordkeeping requirements for short-haul operations.  Motor carriers must still maintain time cards or sheets for their drivers and retain the documents for at least six months § 395.1(e)(1)(v),(2)(v).

4. Sleeper berths.  Under the Regulations, a “sleeper berth,” more commonly referred to as the truck’s “sleeping compartment” or simply “the sleeper,” must comply with minimum requirements for its size, shape, location.
a. Generally, the driver of a CMV equipped with a “sleeper berth” is prohibited from driving until he has accumulated either ten hours off duty, ten hours in the sleeper, or some ten hour combination of off-duty and sleeper time.
b. he driver of a sleeper-equipped CMV cannot drive more than eleven hours in a fourteen hour period following ten hours off duty.
c. Any sleeper time over eight but under ten hours does not count towards the fourteen hour period.

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