The National Transport Commission has recently released new ‘Assessing Fitness to Drive’ Standards for commercial and private vehicle drivers which will take effect on 1 October 2016.
The new standards take on board the deaf and hard of hearing driver’s competency, alertness, and use of alternative technology devices such as GPS, alert systems and so on.
Under current standards, all commercial drivers who have more than 40db hearing loss are required to wear hearing aids. Failure to wear hearing aids resulted in licences being revoked, not be renewed, or be reclassified to lesser capacity, and in some cases, fined.
Many deaf people have been driving commercially for years and have excellent driving records only to find that their livelihood are threatened under present standards.
Deaf Australia argued that wearing a hearing aid does not necessarily mean it will improve safe driving, when in fact, it may lead to increased distraction due to sudden noises. Wearing hearing aids should be an option for deaf and hard of hearing drivers, if they can demonstrate that they can drive safely without one.
“Deaf and hard of hearing people rely on visual cues and other sensations such as vibrations, that otherwise not acquired by non-deaf people” said Kyle Miers, Chief Executive of Deaf Australia, “therefore, they have become more aware of the surrounding and can respond to various situations that throws at themÆ.
“This is a win for common-sense” said Todd Wright, Chairperson of Deaf Australia, “it brings us closer in making an inclusive Australia for deaf people”.
Together with Deaf Victoria, we have been involved in the review of the standards.
To view the new Standards: https://www.onlinepublications.austroads.com.au/items/AP-G56-16