FMCSA May Waive Hearing Rule for 20 Deaf Drivers
The Department of Transportation may break trucking regulation precedent by exempting 20 deaf or hard-of-hearing commercial drivers from federal minimum hearing requirements for Commercial Drivers Licenses. If it does, this would be the first time this regulation has been waived since it was established in 1988. And it would be thanks in large part to efforts by the National Association for the Deaf.
As is required, FMCSA will seek public comment on the waivers before granting the exemptions. If it does grant the exemptions, the regulations will not be affected, and any future exemptions will be made on an individual basis. All exemptions are published in the Federal Register.
In a statement posted on its website last March, the NAD says it is “advocating for the complete removal of the hearing requirement … and focused on helping qualified drivers who would like to operate Class B commercial motor vehicles without airbrakes obtain exemptions from the DOT’s Physical Qualification Standards.”
The post added that the NAD has been actively recruiting drivers “with a strong record of safety who can pave the way for DOT to grant exemptions to drivers who are deaf or hard of hearing.”
The DOT’s Physical Qualification Standards require that drivers 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 ….”
Last week, an FMCSA spokesperson said the agency has done no research on whether the deaf drivers will be as safe on the road as drivers who meet standard hearing requirements.