ACTION ALERT: Support Deaf and Hard of Hearing Truck Drivers
Deaf and hard of hearing truck drivers need your support! We need your help to tell the U.S. Department of Transportation that deaf and hard of hearing people should be permitted to drive trucks!
For the first time in history, the U.S. Department of Transportation is considering the applications of 45 deaf and hard of hearing individuals submitted by the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) for exemptions from the Commercial Drivers Licenses (CDL) physical qualification of hearing. The U.S. DOT is also requesting comments from the public, so voice your support now.
The physical qualification requires individuals to prove they can “first perceive a forced whispered voice in the better ear at not less than 5 feet with or without the use of a hearing aid” or “not have an average hearing loss in the better ear greater than 40 decibels at 500 Hz, 1,000 Hz, and 2,000 Hz with or without a hearing aid . . .” See 49 C.F.R. § 391.41(b)(11) for more details.
In 2008, the U.S. DOT published a report that collected results from various studies on deafness and driving. The report included studies showing deaf and hard of hearing individuals with private drivers licenses are NOT at an increased risk for crashes. The report also discovered that studies did not support the validity of the forced whisper test.
The NAD has provided the U.S. DOT with the applications of 45 individuals with excellent driving records. These forty-five individuals are:
“The NAD is pleased that the DOT is considering these 45 applications and urge the community to file comments in support of these individuals. It is unacceptable that deaf and hard of hearing truck drivers continue to be barred from obtaining CDLs,” said NAD President Bobbie Beth Scoggins.
This is not the first time the U.S. DOT has considered CDL physical qualification exemptions. DOT has granted exemptions for the qualifications for diabetes and for monocular vision, so please send the DOT your comments right now.
We need members of our community to submit comments to the DOT explaining that the DOT should allow these 45 deaf and hard of hearing truck drivers to get CDLs. The NAD has prepared a sample comment- see below.
The DEADLINE to file your comment
is June 25, 2012 at 11:59 PM ET has been extended to July 25th, 2012, at 11:59 PM ET.
Take action right now and support deaf and hard of hearing truck drivers!
Dear Sir or Madam,
I am writing in support of the 45 applicants seeking exemption from the hearing requirement contained in 49 C.F.R. 391.41(b)(11). The DOT should grant unrestricted exemptions from the hearing requirement to these drivers, each of whom has a proven history of safe driving.
All evidence supports granting of these exemptions. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s 2008 Executive Study of the hearing requirement concluded that an inability to satisfy the hearing requirement does not result in any increased safety risk. The actual experiences of deaf and hard of hearing drivers, including many of the exemption applicants, who already operate commercial motor vehicles in intrastate commerce confirms the accuracy of the conclusions reached by the FMCSA’s Executive Study.
Based upon my own personal experience, I know that drivers who are deaf or hard of hearing do not face the same distractions on the road as do many hearing drivers. For example, drivers who are deaf and hard of hearing are not distracted by conversations in the vehicle, radio, music, and ringing phones. When off the road, deaf and hard of hearing drivers can communicate with the dispatcher with today’s smart phone technologies.
I believe strongly that these deaf and hard of hearing drivers should be permitted to operate any vehicle. I also believe strongly that the DOT should not limit drivers who are deaf and hard of hearing to drive only certain kinds of vehicles. The DOT has never before restricted drivers to a certain class of vehicle based on disability and should certainly not do so here. Again, all evidence supports the contention that drivers who can satisfy all of the physical qualification standards except hearing can safely operate vehicles, including vehicles with air brakes.