Can You Drive If You’re Deaf?

May 20th, 2014 | by Andreas Seelisch | Awareness
Can You Drive If You’re Deaf?

One of the most common questions regarding deaf individuals is whether or not they can drive. In fact, this has led to the judgment of deaf drivers on their ability to drive safely. Being deaf does not prevent someone from driving. In fact, some argue that deaf people have an increased ability to drive safely.

How Deaf Individuals Drive

A misconception among the public is that you can’t drive if you can’t hear. But it’s been shown that being deaf has no negative impacts on your ability to drive. There are many ways that deaf drivers do so safely.

Drivers who are deaf utilize special devices that alert them when emergency vehicle sirens are nearby. Car horns can also be detected using this system and give deaf drivers the notification they need to proceed with caution.

Some devices are able to distinguish the sound using a panel with multiple indicators.

Panoramic mirrors can also be used to enhance the visual perception of deaf drivers, and give them a better sense of the other vehicles and objects around their automobile.

If deaf people were unable or prohibited to drive, they would be restricted in their access to employment and any necessary services. Driving is therefore an important right to maintain for all people.

Common Misconceptions

The right to drive for deaf people has been a source of many legal issues. In many cases, individuals who are deaf have been denied the ability to rent vehicles. This has led to disputes in support of providing equal treatment to deaf drivers.

In the cases of automobile accidents, it’s not uncommon for the general public to assume that deaf drivers were at fault. Because of their hearing impairment, it’s assumed that their ability to drive is also compromised, making them the likely liable party.

A legal case in 2006 involved a delivery company that denied employment to deaf drivers out of fears regarding safety. The court ruled against the company, setting an important precedent for future legal cases.

The Skills of Deaf Drivers

Some argue that deaf drivers are safer than their non-deaf counterparts. Research has indicated that being deaf enhances the peripheral vision of individuals. Because driving is primarily a visual activity, this supports the ability of deaf drivers to effectively operate a vehicle.

Visual cues are important components in driving for all individuals. Deaf drivers can use these cues in their driving to stay aware of approaching emergency vehicles, or the behaviors of other drivers.

Driving is a valuable right that allows individuals to access the services of daily life. For deaf individuals, having this right taken away would restrict that access and increase the challenges they face. But deaf drivers have consistently shown that they can drive as safely (if not more) than hearing drivers.

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