Friday, June 08, 2012

To Whom It May Concern:

We will support these 45 deaf individuals to drive a truck.  At this time, we strongly encourage that the regulations should allow ALL deaf and people with hearing loss to drive trucks.  There are currently build in technologies already build in the trucks that bring us no reason for any deaf or person with hearing loss to be a safety concerns.  We strongly believe that driving trucks is about skills not hearing.

For the past, 5 years of research and discussion with many deaf people who either have a CDL A License or are struggling to get their license.  We have found that there are currently no strong argument or reasons to support the facts that deaf people are safety concerns.  In 1800’s, the government tried to take away deaf people’s driver’s license.  And, the reason the law was dropped was because they had far more evidence that deaf people are better drivers than most people driving on the road.

The only barrier is the thoughts of the people who are normal that never experiences their life without hearing.  That is not a good argument.  We all know that everyone has some kind of special needs.  There are currently no perfect person out there.

One very well written by Daphne Bavelier, “Do deaf individuals see better?,” TRENDS in Cognitive Sciences (2006,) says that “Deaf individuals were more distracted by peripheral distractors than were hearing individuals.”  This shows evidence that deaf people are better drivers because they are able to catch things from outside the central focus better than other drivers out there.  This means that although they can not hear, they will be able to catch things from mirror view better than those who hear.

We did a variety of questions with different deaf truck drivers who are currently driving with a CDL A license, because they meet the 40 DB with their hearing aids.  These truckers say that the hearing aids do not help them much due to the noise in the cab.  Even hearing truck drivers shared with us that they are always struggling on hearing things inside the cab due the facts that there are one or two mufflers right behind the cab.  Many of the hearing drivers are currently losing their hearing due to that noise.

So, the hearing drivers have found some solutions such as PSI gauge, warning lights and other things that they could capture before they go on their trips.  As an example, the trucks would not move, if the airbrakes are not working or connected correctly.  Even there were requirements written in the manual given by FMCSA different alternatives for the drivers due to their lack of hearing inside the cabs.  Most of the solutions had nothing to do with hearing at all, because they were all about feeling, looking and checking the systems before the trips.  This leads many truckers who are hearing or deaf to wonder why the hearing physical checkup is required for the drivers because there are no reasons for any needs of hearing loss will cause safety concerns.

There are currently over 150 people around the United States who joined together in Facebook group called Deaf Truckers United (DTU.)   There are many more out there, however there are even more people who did not even try because they were told no.  Those who are currently driving are the people who stand strong to fight their way to get their license.  These drivers are now asking why the system was made so hard for them to get their license.  And, every two years they go through this check up.  Most of the times, the hearing aid is broken or needs to be tuned up just to keep their license.  These extra steps are not necessary.  Hearing people found ways to pass the test without getting their hearing check up.  While, deaf people had no choices but to challenge the system every time they get a check up.  This system is not fairly measured.  But, the truth is that the system was not needed in the first place.  These DTU members are living proof of that.  A perfect solution would be to remove the hearing physical requirements because there is currently no strong evidence of why deaf people are safety concerns to driving trucks.

“This hearing test was adopted in 1970 and revised in 1971 to allow drivers to take the test with hearing aids.  The test was never based on any research of any kind; it is a dinosaur, a relic of past misconceptions,” Mary Vargas, one of several NAD Lawyers, said.  “In 2008, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) commissioned a study of the hearing requirement and all existing research on deaf drivers. That study concluded that there is no evidence of increased crash risk in drivers who are unable to pass the Dept. of Transportation hearing test.”

That report can be found in the below link:

It makes no sense to me today that deaf people are prevented from driving trucks.  The drivers manual already shows all the answers to alternative solutions if a person can not hear.  At the same time, research has already proven that deaf people can drive better by replacing their hearing loss with other senses.  And, FMCSA already did a research in 2008 with no evidence that a person with hearing loss is a safety issue.

We believe strongly that driving skill and there are no safety concerns that should require deaf people to receive a waiver because they lack hearing or speaking sense at all.  We strongly encourage the US Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (US DOT FMCSA) regulations 391.11(2), 391.41(b)(11), and 391.43(EARS) to be removed from all vehicles driving requirements.

Please grant these 45 deaf truckers to drive, and at the same time remove the following hearing and speaking regulation toward a person with hearing loss from being required to drive any kind of vehicles.

Thank you,

Dean DeRusso, Deaf Systems Advocate


If you have not done your letter yet, please check out this Action Alert at below link:

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