Through the last 8 years or so that I have been actively involved in working with new and prospective drivers online, I have run across some horrendous stories of people being taken advantage of by truck driving schools. I have spoken before about the woman who had been convicted of felony drug possession and who was out on parole. She and her husband decided to become truckers and went to a truck driving school. When she told the instructors/director about her conviction and being on parole, the school, knowing she would be unemployable by an interstate company, told her to ‘just not mention it’ on any applications.
Another man who I have previously written about was told he was prehired by a training company by third party recruiters for a trucking school. He passed permit tests, drug tests and physical with flying colors and had nothing in his background to prohibit him from driving truck. He started school on a Monday, was told the prehiring company would not hire him on a Wednesday and on Friday was told that the school could not find anyone else to prehire him and kicked him out of school. The man who was from an economically strapped state had been out of work for some time and was now out transportation costs to the school and back home again along with being charged for the motel while at the school. When he asked the school what had happened, he was told, “we don’t have to tell you that.”
Last week, I heard the worst story yet. A man who is deaf and due to the deafness cannot speak was allowed to go thru trucking school, passed his CDL tests and passed a DOT physical. Now, he cannot find any company to hire him and train him further.
DOT/FMCSA regulations are clear on speech and hearing:
(b)(2) Can read and speak the English language sufficiently to converse with the general public, to understand highway traffic signs and signals in the English language, to respond to official inquiries, and to make entries on reports and records;
(b)(11) First perceives a forced whispered voice in the better ear at not less than 5 feet with or without the use of a hearing aid or, if tested by use of an audiometric device, does not have an average hearing loss in the better ear greater than 40 decibels at 500 Hz, 1,000 Hz, and 2,000 Hz with or without a hearing aid when the audiometric device is calibrated to American National Standard (formerly ASA Standard) Z24.5–1951;
From what I can gather, the man was told by the school that companies have qualcoms that he could use to communicate with dispatch so he would not have a problem finding a job. Of course he is finding the reverse to be true. While it is true to some degree, training companies mostly do have qualcoms, there are many times when drivers have to be able to speak to the public or in the course of the job to shippers/receivers etc.
With the current activity within the FMCSA about strengthening the medical requirements for truckers, it would follow that training companies do not want to invest in training/hiring a person who has deafness and cannot speak. I am not saying that it is right on the company’s part, but it is understandable…also, it would take a special kind of trainer to be able to work with this man.
With the background I have working within the disabled community to keep disabled folk independent and working productively, I of course applaud this man for wanting to better himself by becoming a trucker…or fulfilling a lifelong dream or whatever reason he had for entering the trucking industry. On the other hand though, I have to wonder exactly why the trucking school allowed him to go through the course without being willing to go the extra mile to find him a company to work for or telling him he would basically be unemployable by the major companies.
On a forum, I asked someone involved in a trucking school association why did they allow people who obviously could not be hired as truckers to go through their schools. This person’s response was, “we have to allow anyone to go through the school because we receive public money for tuition, we cannot discriminate.”
In my opinion, telling someone that they are not employable due to regulations is a moral responsibility of a school or anyone involved in finding students for a school or training company instead of taking the government money or personal money from the student and allow them to find out after the fact. There has to be some sort of accountability from someone to protect these folk from being part of the huge cash cow of the trucking industry.
As far as the deaf man goes, many of us are scrambling trying to figure out a way to assist him in finding him some sort of driving job so he can put his CDL to use. I imagine if we can find someone to take a chance on him, it will be a small intrastate company instead of the interstate company he was promised and perhaps we will be unsuccessful; I don’t hold much hope. These types of stories always hurt my heart when once again greed overweighs everything in this industry that I love and another person is taken advantage of…it really must be stopped.