Driver Qualifications; Regulatory Guidance Concerning the Applicability of Language Requirement to Drivers Who Do Not Meet the Hearing Standard
Notice of regulatory guidance.
The FMCSA provides regulatory guidance concerning the applicability of the driver qualification requirement that interstate drivers must be able to read and speak the English language sufficiently to converse with the general public and respond to official inquiries to drivers who do not meet the Agency's hearing standard. The guidance explains that the English-language rule should not be construed to prohibit operation of a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) by hearing impaired drivers who can read and write in the English language but do not speak, for whatever reason. While the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) prohibit individuals who do not meet the hearing standard from operating CMVs in interstate commerce, FMCSA has granted exemptions to a number of hearing-impaired individuals. Some hearing impaired drivers have advised the National Association of the Deaf that they have been told by State licensing agency officials that they do not meet the English language requirement essentially because they do not speak. This guidance is intended to address the perceived conflict between the exemptions and the manner in which FMCSA regulations are being applied to hearing impaired drivers.