Can deaf people drive? How does hearing loss even make a difference?
It is a common misconception, and hearing myth, that the hearing impaired cannot drive. But driving with hearing loss can safely and legally drive all over the world.
Hearing Loss & Driving
Estimations are that 1.2 million people in the UK have disabling hearing loss, which is greater than 65 dBHL.
Around 12 million adults suffer from hearing loss that is over 25 dBHL, which is 1 out of 5 people, according to https://rnid.org.uk/. So we probably all know someone who may be struggling with some form of hearing loss. People who suffer, from hearing loss, can have a significant impact on their quality of life. They may not be able to hear TV or music to not be able to, make out what people are saying, which can be frustrating for all parties involved. There are many things we take for granted when thinking about hearing loss, like driving a car. Hearing loss drivers could affect other road users and pedestrians. That is why there is an ongoing debate on whether deaf or hard of hearing people can drive and whether it should be, an issue, regulated by law.
Can Deaf People Drive and how can hearing loss affect driving?
Research has shown, the deaf and hard of hearing do not cause more traffic accidents. Many factors come into play when looking into the incidents that happen on the road. First, people with hearing loss are much more vigilant and rely more on their visual observations. They understand they may be at a disadvantage, which allows them to be more vigilant because they will be more aware of their surroundings. So can anticipate a potential hazard and take corrective action before it occurs – they stay alert for all kinds flashing and emergency signals or vibrations much more than the regular driver.
There is also the argument that many drivers who have normal hearing compromise their attentiveness with loud music or talking on the phone while driving, thus posing the same or increased hazard on the road. As not only will they not hear what is happening but also are occupied with something else hence being a greater risk. Because of the awareness of the hearing loss, they take extra care. So OVER compensating for hearing loss and therefore making them safer drivers.
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Concerns about deaf & hard of hearing drivers
In the UK, to drive a car, or bike you do not need to tell the DVLA that you suffer from hearing loss. However, the law is different for other modes of transport. The DVLA even state on their site, how people with hearing loss are more vigilant while using the road.
You may feel having a hearing disability would hinder your driving ability. However, because of the knowledge of hearing ability, overcompensation allows you to become a safer driver.
Unlike a driver who can hear easily, they are not distracted by other things going on, like a phone buzzing or music on the radio.
Do I need to wear hearing aids to drive?
Although it is up to the hearing aid wearer not using a hearing aid while driving poses some risks, for example, if unable to hear emergency sirens, this could become dangerous. Many hearing aid users say using hearing aids can be a distraction due to background noise, so they prefer not to wear them while driving. A great way to combat this is to make sure you have the best tech to, make sure you are getting the best and safest experience from your hearing aids.
7 of the best tips for drivers with hearing loss to stay safe in 2021
- Rely on visual signs, focus on what you may see rather than hear. Keep an eye out for those flashing lights as they can indicate a hazard or emergency vehicle.
- Keep distractions to a minimum, which goes for all drivers, not just the hard of hearing. Distractions are what causes a lot of accidents so minimising them, minimises the chance of an accident.
- Check your lights before going on a drive, as most cars have audible warnings to indicate issues like indicator lights become faulty. Checking these before leaving can avoid spotting this issue on the road and decrease the chance of an accident due to a fault you may miss otherwise.
- Get it serviced, keeping your car in tip-top condition is a great idea. Many times a fault occurs, it will make a noise which could be easily get overlooked.
- Get regular check-ups with your hearing, changes to your hearing can often go unnoticed. It’s best to understand your hearing loss so you can adapt according.
- Take spare batteries, if you rely on your hearing aids and prefer to use them while driving always take spare-batteries or a means to charge your hearing aids. That last thing you want is to be stuck out in the middle of nowhere and not be able to use your hearing aids.
- Plan your journey ahead of time, knowing where to go and points of interest along the way because then you can pay more attention to the road and other drivers and worry less about where you are going.
UK driving with hearing loss regulations
Currently, there is not a specific law for driving with hearing loss in the UK. To obtain a car or motorcycle license, you do not have to inform the DVLA you are deaf. However, to drive a bus, coach, or lorry, you must state and declare you are deaf, as made clear on their website. Also to you MUST wear your hearing aid if prescribed.
US driving with hearing loss regulations
In the United States, it can differ from state to state, so it is always best to check your local information or state laws to where you are travelling to ensure you stay within the law while driving with hearing loss.
Rest of the world driving regulations
Some countries have implemented laws regarding hearing loss and driving, mainly relating to commercial drivers. The conditions can be dependant on the severity of the hearing loss becoming over a certain dBHL. And then subject to regular checks to ensure the competence of the driver. If you are travelling abroad and considering hiring a car to drive you around, it is best to check the local restrictions to check yourself safe and legal before arriving.
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Book a Free Lifestyle Hearing Assessment today. Find out how Premier Hearing can help you become a safer driver and have better hearing quality today.
In many instances, while driving without a hearing aid when you prescribed one can become a matter of law, some hearing aid users don’t wear their hearing aids because of the background noise of car and traffic noise. Modern digital hearing aids filter and manage background noise and can also connect to Bluetooth devices such as phone and sat-nav.
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