Oftentimes, truckers have long dreamed of being out on the open road. Trucking is an amazing profession. But what if someone told you that you weren’t able to drive a truck? Luckily, strides are being made by individuals and organizations to make the trucking industry more inclusive. Female truckers are becoming commonplace in the industry and hopefully deaf truckers will follow suit! You may be wondering “can deaf people drive trucks?” The answer is yes. There are legal exemptions in place for deaf truckers to obtain their CDL’s. Though there is still a long way to go for the inclusion of deaf truckers in the American trucking industry, read below to find out how deaf truckers are able to live out their trucking dreams!
Laws and Exemptions for Deaf Truck Drivers
In order to obtain a CDL, the driver must meet Physical Qualification Standards set by the U.S. Department of Transportation. One of these standards states that a driver must be able to hear “a forced whisper at not less than 5 feet in the better ear with or without a hearing aid.” However, in 2013, The Department of Transportation began giving exemptions to deaf drivers. They granted these exemptions after reviewing a study commissioned by the FMCSA in 2008. This study sought to the answer the question “can deaf people drive trucks?” The study concluded that there is no increased risk for deaf truck drivers. The DOT distributed the first exemptions in early 2013. These exemptions were granted to 40 deaf truck drivers. In order to qualify for an exemption, you must send a written exemption request to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
What to Include in an Exemption Request
According to the National Association of The Deaf, you should include four things:
- A complete application
- A medical release of information form
- A copy of both sides of your driver’s license
- A copy of your driving record
The exemption application process can take months. After this process, you will also be required to apply for a new exemption every two years. As of 2019, there are no laws removing the Physical Qualification Standards for deaf CDL applicants. Instead, the laws still stand, and deaf applicants need exemptions to qualify. If you are having difficulty filling out the application, then feel free to contact the NAD. They are determined to help all deaf truckers achieve their dreams.
How Can Deaf People Drive Trucks?
Once a driver qualifies for an exemption, he/she can start CDL training school and obtain their CDL. However, the process can take longer for deaf students than for other driving school students. These deaf trucking students use interpreters to learn material and understand all of the ins and outs of trucking. A deaf trucker, Justin Brooks, trained for his CDL by using a large fish-eye mirror on the dashboard to see his interpreter sitting behind him. He also had access to all course materials in writing. After obtaining a CDL deaf truck drivers hit the road.
Ultimately, the National Association for the Deaf has concluded that deaf drivers are just as safe as hearing drivers, as they do not have as many audible distractions. Deaf truckers are able to remain alert by constantly checking their mirrors and the traffic around them. The National Association of the Deaf is working hard to change the Department of Transportation’s Physical Qualification Standards. Until then, deaf truckers should apply for exemptions.
Are you feeling inspired to continue your own trucking journey? Browse our trucking school directory to find the perfect driving school for you and remember to always keep trucking!