FMCSA reminds drivers of ‘emergency conditions’ provision in HOS

July 10, 2020

Mark Schremmer

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In response to concerns over incidents of civil unrest throughout the country, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reminded drivers of a provision within the hours of service that allows them to complete their run when it was halted by “emergency conditions.”

“After seeing incidents of threats against truckers, FMCSA wants drivers to know that they may use the emergency conditions exception in 395.1(b) to complete a trip without violating the hours-of-service regulations if the trip was delayed due to a civil disturbance causing a driver to reasonably fear for their physical safety,” the agency wrote. “Any driver who experiences crime or violence should immediately call the police.”

The “emergency conditions” provision allows a driver to complete his or 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.”

According to an FMCSA spokesman, it is recommended that a driver using the emergency conditions provision to include an annotation in their electronic logging device that says “civil unrest, unable to safely operate.”

Protests

What truckers are supposed to do when they approach a protest has been a popular topic in recent months. Protests have popped up all over the nation since the death of George Floyd in May.

Land Line Now’s Scott Thompson spoke with several OOIDA board members about how they have approached the situation.

When the protests were in full swing around the country, Johanne Couture, a truck driver from Canada, decided to stay on her side of the border and then started a conversation about trusting your instincts, planning ahead and supporting other drivers.

“People do really odd things when they’re scared, so my whole reason for not crossing the border at that point was, I didn’t want to get to the scared point. I didn’t want to be in that position, so I just decided, nope, I’ll just stay on my own side,” she said.

Like Couture, OOIDA Board Member Linda Allen followed her instincts regarding the protests.

On the same night that four St. Louis police officers were shot on June 1 – Allen was approaching the city with a load. She had no idea what was up ahead, but her instincts were talking – and she chose to listen to them.

“I’ve been cutting through the woods a bit to go around cities. The other night, coming up on St. Louis and I just had a feeling in my gut that I just didn’t want to go through the city. My husband and I are running team, and I end up saying, ‘Look we just need to pull over,’ and he said, ‘Our load will be late.’ And I said, you know what, I don’t care. It’s better to be late and safe than sorry and dead,” Allen said.

“We ended up pulling in to a truck stop about 30 miles from St. Louis, and we would’ve been going through St. Louis right at the time those officers were shot – and protesters were closing down the freeway. So we definitely made the right decision, and we just didn’t know. Just had this feeling that we just needed to stop.”

Mark Schremmer

Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.