What New Drivers Need To Know About The DOT Hearing Test:
The DOT physical requires that drivers pass a hearing test before being issued a medical certification.
If a driver uses hearing aids, they may wear them during the "forced whisper" test.
In certain cases, a driver can apply for an exemption to the hearing test requirements.
What Are The Requirements For The DOT Hearing Test?
A person is physically qualified to drive a CMV if that person: First perceives a forced whispered voice in the better ear at not less than five 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 500Hz, 1000HZ and 2,000 Hz with or without a hearing aid when the audiometric device is calibrated to the American National Standard Z24.5-1951.
Drivers will first be given a "forced whisper" test, with or without hearing aid, from the side, from at least 5 feet away, and will be tested on their ability to hear it. The examiner, using the breath which remains after a forced expiration, will words or random numbers in the drivers ear, while the other ear is covered.
If the driver fails the whisper test, the driver must pass an audiometer (basically a device that produces various tones) test to be qualified to drive a CMV. Office audiometry is not able to test a person with a hearing aid. The person needs to be referred for accurate testing.
Drivers who use hearing aids must wear them and have them in operation at all times while driving. They must also carry a spare power source for the hearing aids.
DOT Hearing Test Exemptions:
The FMCSA has established an exemption program for drivers who cannot meet the requirements from FMCSA Regulations Section 391.41 (b)(11), prohibiting drivers who fail the hearing test from operating interstate CMV's.
Applicants will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, and will be required to submit to a full release and examination of their medical history and records.
See Also: DOT Physical Exemptions
See Also: FMCSA Driver Exemption Programs