Is It Legal For Deaf People To Drive A Car?

The short answer to this is yes, it's perfectly legal!

It is a common misconception that the hearing impaired cannot drive. But, the hard of hearing and the deaf can safely and legally drive all over the world. It's also not prohibited in the UK Highway Code or part of the driving test.

The long answer is a little bit more complex, and something that shouldn't be taken lightly because, as with many disabilities, there are many varying degrees of deafness and some can be avoided or at least helped.

Why hearing is important

When driving, being able to hear the road, the environment and what's going around you is extremely useful.

Have you ever had a flat tyre or heard a strange noise from the engine that's made you stop and check it out?

If you're driving along and you begin to hear that dreaded "flap flapping" of a tyre that's suddenly deflated, then it's important to pull over and check before more damage is done.

A wheel with a punctured tyre needs fixing. Not only is it dangerous to drive in that condition, but the wheel could become permanently damaged, causing a big repair bill.

And engine noises can also mean something's gone awry.

A small noise can be fixed before it turns into grinding metal that churns your engine inside out and lands you with a massive bill.

And then there's the issue of emergency vehicle sirens. If you can't hear them, then you're unlikely to know when one is about to overtake, and that can be quite a shock.

Of course, deaf people have to deal with this all the time, there's no real way out of it, but for many with slight deafness, there are potential solutions.

Driving when deaf

For a deaf person who is also an experienced driver, the problem might not be quite so bad ad they have learned to deal with their hearing impairment and are now able to pick up on visual cues and other signs.

They are also used to taking extra care when driving and in some cases have learned to train their other senses to compensate. Many have become much better drivers because of this, too.
And of course, there are special devices that have been designed to help, such as oversized rear-view mirrors and visual alerting devices that can inform you when there are problems that need to be investigated and give other communication support.

Advice for the hard of hearing

The advice from many organisations is that if you have a hearing issue, but it can be helped by using an aid, then you should do.

If you find your hearing is failing, then you should take a hearing test and you will be given advice on the best way to deal with your particular problem.

It may be that an inexpensive hearing aid will give you all the help you need and will bring you up to the hearing standard that has become the norm.

Also, it might be time to consider upgrading to an automatic vehicle so you have fewer distractions, giving you more time to consider hazards on the road.

An induction loop system in the car may help, but also, some hearing aids now come with Bluetooth and mobile phone apps allowing you to configure them for specific environments.

However, apart from the technological help, it's worth giving yourself extra time when driving to your destination so you don't rush. This is good advice for all drivers in fact, regardless of disability!

And remember, driving is an important right for many people, both able-bodied and disabled.

There are perfectly safe and able commercial drivers who have hearing loss, and your right to a driving license should not be taken away just because of a disability!