The great deserts of the Southwest, the frozen wastes of Alaska, the prairies of the Midwest, the dense urban agglomerates of the Northeast, the Rust Belt, the Bible Belt… All of these great regions of the US are traversed day and night, 365 days a year, by arctic trucks. Trucks and their drivers are the blood pumping through the veins of the nation. They are essential.
Truck driving is one of the most common and crucial jobs in the United States. There are over three and a half million truck drivers working in the US today. Visiting every corner of the country, they haul everything from expensive luxury goods, to lifesaving drugs, to home staples we couldn’t live without.
Without truck drivers, the nation would grind to a standstill and life as we know it would be impossible. But can someone with physical disabilities become a truck driver? Let’s find out.
Can A Physically Disabled Person Become A Truck Driver?
Yes, it is absolutely possible to drive a truck with a disability. Many of the most experienced and relied-upon truck drivers in the US have some type of disability. Most types of physical disability do not prevent a person from being able to drive a truck professionally.
Sometimes accommodations need to be made for disabled truck drivers – for example, changes to the structure of the cab, or technological aids for loading and unloading. But in 2020, technology has made these types of accommodations easier to make than ever before. Technology is transforming trucks and trucking in numerous amazing ways, so a physical disability is usually no disadvantage at all for a truck driver.
Are Disabled Truck Drivers Common?
Disabled truck drivers are common in the United States. Some drivers have always had a disability and became truckers while disabled. Other drivers became disabled while already working as truck drivers, either through job-related accidents or otherwise. These drivers had to retrain to be able to drive with their new disability.
Where Does The Law Stand On Truck Driving With A Physical Disability?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is the main piece of legislation that affects the area of truck driving with a disability. The ADA states that employers or potential employers of disabled people should make “reasonable accommodations” that will allow the disabled person to do their job.
Several legal cases have been brought by disabled truck drivers over the years. In many instances, the court found in favor of the disabled driver, and often large payouts have resulted. In other cases, courts have ruled against disabled truck drivers. A lot depends on the nature of the disability that a driver has.
What Disabilities Disqualify A Person From Becoming A Truck Driver?
All truck drivers must obtain a certification from a licensed medical professional in order to qualify for a Commercial Driver’s License. Several disabilities disqualify a person from driving a truck.
The large majority of physical disabilities disqualify a person only if the disability interferes with their ability to drive. If a person can demonstrate that their disability does not interfere with their driving during a Skill Performance Evaluation, they will qualify to drive.
The conditions that disqualify a person outright are:
- Diabetes: If the person needs to inject People who take their insulin orally may qualify.
- Cardiovascular disease: If it is of the type that may be accompanied by congestive cardiac failure, syncope, dyspnea, or collapse.
- Certain respiratory diseases: If they are likely to interfere with the ability to safely operate a commercial motor vehicle.
- Hypertension of Stage 3 severity.
- Blindness in one eye.
How The Truck-Driving Industry Uses Technology To Accommodate Disabled Drivers
There are many practical considerations when it comes to driving a truck with a physical disability. But just like with other types of vehicles, modern technology is coming up with ingenious ways of solving the problems that disabled drivers face.
The truck-driving industry is using technology to enable disabled drivers to work effectively and to enjoy long, lucrative careers in the industry. Here are some of the most useful modifications that are enabling disabled truck drivers to do their job:
- Wheelchair lifts and ramps
- Cranes for loading and unloading
- Hand controls
- Adaptive electronic controls
- Pedal and steering wheel extensions
- Left foot accelerators
- Reduced effort braking systems
How To Become A Truck Driver With Physical Disabilities
To become a truck driver as a physically disabled person, you will need:
- A Commercial Driver’s License
- To pass a Skill Performance Evaluation
- A USDOT pin number from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
- To apply for a disabled parking permit
How To Apply For A Disabled Parking Permit
An easy way to apply for a disabled parking permit is to set up a telemedicine consultation with a licensed medical professional through Dr. Handicap.