Truck drivers throughout the country are feeling the ever increasing pressures and obstacles of driving professionally.
CSA and the point system, EOBR’s included in the Transportation Bill, HOS, possible sleep apnea testing mandates, lack of truck parking, anti- idling laws, high fuel prices, categorized as unskilled labor, detention time and the possibility of even more regulations.
Drivers are now voicing their thoughts and opinions, believing that many of these obstacles and regulations are unjust.
Many drivers are “working” towards a better career and life, yet none are fighting harder than the trucking group: “DTU.”
One of the most vocal and passionate groups addressing regulations is the Deaf Truckers United ( DTU). The regulation they are fighting for is the right to drive. They believe driving is a skill and is not dependent upon the ability to hear.
Many other countries agree with this as their deaf are allowed to drive. As a matter of fact, insurance companies also agree with this, stating that “Deaf drivers are among the safest drivers.”
Last year at the 1st Annual Truck Driver Convention, many within the DTU group attended.
With the aid of two interpreters,they were able to take part , including approaching the podium during the open forum to express their passionate beliefs and convictions regarding the antiquated regulations regarding hearing requirements of the FMCSA.
Listen to part of the speech within the highlight video that Jesse Shelander of DTU gave during the 2011 convention.
Watch the audience also, to say everyone was moved, would be an understatement. They witnessed “Faith and Works.”
On July 6th 2012, the National Association for the Deaf ( NAD) had a Conference in Louisville, KY.
For 2 hours, DTU members; Bruce Dunn, Randall Doane, Morris Townsend, Lon E. Smith and Dean DeRusso met with Larry W. Minor, FMCSA Associate Administrator for Policy and Program Development.
Please read the following written by Dean DeRusso, a lead member of DTU and participant of the NAD conference on KY. It is a summary of their goals as deaf drivers and also the summary of the NAD conference with FMCSA representative Larry Minor.
The following has been written by Dean DeRusso
“Our presentation at NAD Conference in Louisville, KY focused on the success of why Deaf people CAN drive trucks and that we have been successful. Panel list was: Lon Smith, Randall Doane, Morris Townsend, Bruce Dunn, Larry Minor, and Dean DeRusso (lead the questions).”
“The presentation was with a special announcement of the history of DTU and told about how Brenda Palmigiano founded the group and how it grew to 150 members around the country of deaf truckers who either fear losing their license, have a license, or their experiences of losing their license. They showed the FMCSA how they got into the trucker business. Two of them had family businesses, while the rest needed a job. They loved the trucking and their job and nothing could take that away from them.”
“DTU felt that there was a strong need to show FMCSA that the solutions for safety of deaf drivers are already found in the FMCSA Manual, mainly because the hearing requirements that were modified were created to allow hearing truckers hear due to the noise of the muffler behind the cab. And, many hearing solutions that were given to the hearing include technology solutions such as lights, psi gage warnings, mirrors and further to help all truckers drive. There currently are no reasons to place deaf people as a safety concern related to driving trucks.”
“National Association of the Deaf (NAD) has been working on this for twenty years. DTU reminded the FMCSA representative of what NAD found in the past as Mary Vargas, NAD Lawyer who has been working closely with DTU found that FMCSA already did research.”
“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 HERE.
“DTU also found recent research in hearing loss for deaf people shows that if a person lose one of their five senses. The other senses will replace it. For example, those who can not hear will replace their sense of sight and touch to assist them on hearing. 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 distractions 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.”
“DTU, FMCSA, and NAD representatives all later had a private meeting to discuss some concerns and problems with the current regulations.”
- They explained the needs of following procedure to do FMCSA of removing laws through. Currently, there is a petition that will support exemption for 45 deaf truckers applicants that is due on July 25th. The result of this petition will be announced maybe two months after the day.
- NAD and FMCSA agreed that now is a good time to challenge the FMCSA to remove three regulations of needing to hear and speak in FMCSA. So, on ADA Day, July 26, NAD will post a petition to go against the three laws! This includes needing to hear and speak to get a license if a person is deaf because NAD said it violates the American with Disability Act (ADA) laws.
“Overall of the presentation and private meeting with FMCSA, NAD and DTU members was great! We were all looking forward to what this history movement will bring!”
“DTU will continue its mission to fight that driving trucks is about skills not hearing.”
There are many complaining about the direction trucking is going in. Drivers feel over-regulated, under paid, and disrespected.
Many are doing something about it, either writing or calling their reps, educating other drivers through blogs, forums and social media websites, or writing to the FMCSA.
Unfortunately, many do nothing because they feel their voice does not count and “nothing will change.”
No Faith – No Works
For those who choose to do nothing, “be inspired“ by the DTU trucking group, a relatively small group of people (compared to 3 million drivers), who did their extensive research, gathered their facts, and then addressed the FMCSA with their concerns. The FMCSA listened and is hearing comments!
- Please visit www.regulations.gov and search for “FMCSA 2012-0154.”
- At the top of the list, you will see: “Qualifications of Drivers; Exemption Applications: National Association of the Deaf.” Click on the “Comment Now!” box on the right
The DTU trucking group now seeks “our” help.
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 FMCSA comment deadline has been extended to July 25th!
This small group did not give up and accept something they did not believe in. They joined together, united and stated their case to the FMCSA.
Imagine how much of an effect and impact 100,000 or 10,000 or just 1,000 UNITED truck drivers would have?
On October 27th & 28th a small group of us will be united in order to learn, network, share ideas and voice our thoughts together. The group consists of drivers and those who honor and support them. We hope you will join us as we host the 2nd Annual Truck Driver Social Media Convention.
We thank the members of DTU for attending for the 2nd year in a row!
Donna is quick to point out the following:
- James 2 KJV
17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
© 2012, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.