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What effect does the Total Solar Eclipse this August 21 have on driver’s Hours of Service?

Asphalt with arrows.

Our HoS and ELD expert, Marc Moncion, discusses the effect that the Solar Eclipse has on specific U.S. states and any ELD exemptions that may apply.

Photo source: Google

Oregon Governor, Kate Brown, has declared the State Of Emergency as part of the State’s Eclipse Preparedness and Readiness Measures. The Oregon DOT has warned drivers that the eclipse will likely cause major traffic challenges on Oregon highways. All commercial drivers are advised that increased traffic will likely affect their travel times and hours-of-service maximums.

Can drivers use the ‘Adverse Driving Conditions’ exemption?

Many commercial drivers may wish to use the ‘Adverse Driving Conditions’ exemption, however, the wording in Part 395 to qualify for this exemption does not include the solar eclipse event.

According to FMCSA, if ‘unexpected adverse driving conditions’ slow a driver down, they may drive up to 2 extra hours to complete what could have been driven in normal conditions. This means that a driver could drive for up to 13 hours, which is 2 hours more than allowed under normal conditions.

Adverse driving conditions mean things that a driver did not reasonably know about when they started their delivery. This would include conditions such as snow, fog, or a shutdown of traffic due to a crash.

Adverse driving conditions do not include situations that one should have anticipated, such as congested traffic during typical ‘rush hour’ periods, or the Total Solar Eclipse that was scheduled to occur on August 21, 2017. As such, according to the FMCSA, no exemption for hours of service will be made available under ‘Adverse Driving Conditions’ for any driver in any state across the U.S. because of the solar eclipse event.

Can drivers use the Emergency Declaration?

Since Oregon Governor, Kate Brown, issued an emergency declaration that formalizes the statewide relief efforts, the Oregon DOT has issued a suspension of motor carrier regulations that fall under Executive Order 17 – 24. This Executive Order is done to facilitate the movement of goods to provide relief to the public. Therefore, a commercial driver will be allowed to complete his/her run without being in violation of the provisions of the regulations in this part.

Oregon DOT has included the following information about the Eclipse:

  • There is only one restriction on trucking in place because of the eclipse. Overwidth loads will NOT be allowed to operate anywhere in Oregon from noon Friday, August 18, to 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, August 22, 2017.  Other over-dimensional loads with permits, including triples, will still be allowed.
  • Oregon DOT will not close any state highways around the eclipse, but cities and counties may close some roads or prohibit left turns at some intersections to help traffic flow.
  • Nearly all Oregon DOT construction projects and non-emergency maintenance work will be shut down during the eclipse. Lane closures, detours and work zones will remain in place.
  • Emergency closures for crashes and emergency responders may cause delays in addition to heavy traffic.
  • Eclipse events are scheduled in many public parking areas such as fairgrounds. Oregon DOT anticipates limited parking for commercial vehicles.
  • Oregon DOT Motor Carrier staff will be working on the day of the eclipse.
  • Motor carriers are encouraged to reschedule deliveries as far as possible before or after August 21, 2017.

The States of Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska and Colorado are Placing Restrictions on Oversize/Overweight Loads in the days before and after the Eclipse

The Oregon Department of Transportation has stated no over-width loads will be allowed to operate in the state between noon on Friday, August 18, 2017, and 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, August 22, 2017. Other over-dimensional loads with permits, including triples, will still be allowed. Oregon DOT also says some scale locations may not be available for use by truckers during the event.

The Idaho Division of Motor Vehicles is also restricting large loads, implementing a “holiday” protocol. Starting Sunday, August 20, 2017, at 4 p.m. and ending at dawn August 22, loads exceeding 10-feet wide, 100-feet long or 14-feet, 6-inches tall may not travel on interstate or state highways south of Lewiston.

In Wyoming, the Wyoming Highway Patrol will not issue any oversize/overweight permits on August 20-22, 2017 to help with traffic flow.

The Nebraska DOT is not allowing oversize loads to travel in the state from sundown on Friday, August 18, 2017, until sunrise on Tuesday, August 22, 2017.

Colorado transportation officials are also restricting all oversize/overweight travel north of Highway 50 from Kansas to Utah, beginning at sundown on Thursday, August 17, 2017, and continuing through sunrise on Wednesday, August 23, 2017.

For a Questions & Answers on what to expect in Oregon during the Total Solar Eclipse, go to the link below.

http://www.oregon.gov/oem/Documents/2017_Eclipse_FAQ.pdf