Can I Drive Safely If I am Hard-of-hearing or Deaf?
According to AARP, over 1/3 of older adults ages 65 and up suffer from some degree of hearing loss. Those driving with hearing loss face challenges and risks that other drivers may not have. And while these challenges exist, those with hearing loss can drive safely with some assistance.
Driving With Hearing Loss
While some are born with hearing loss, and others lose their hearing as a result of sudden trauma, oftentimes hearing loss happens slowly over time. A helpful tip to keep in mind is to pay close attention when you use your turn signal and whether or not you can hear it. If not, it might be time to see a licensed audiologist for an assessment. Driving with hearing loss can be dangerous. For example, you may not be able to hear sirens or emergency vehicles nearby. And remember, even if you are suffering from hearing loss, you may be able to continue driving with the help of hearing aids.
Obtain the Appropriate License
While laws vary from state to state, most areas allow for modifications to licenses for deaf and hard-of-hearing drivers. Many states offer specially marked licenses that indicate the driver is hard-of-hearing or deaf. In addition to an appropriate license, wearing hearing aids might be necessary while driving.
Always Avoid Distractions
While no one should ever be distracted while driving, it can be hazardous for those with hearing loss. It’s a must to limit all distractions, including passengers, devices, or anything else that could take the driver’s attention off the road—signing and reading lips while behind the wheel can also lead to unsafe driving.
Use Available Training Resources
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) offers many videos and web trainings that can help inform hard-of-hearing or deaf drivers on how to deal with traffic stops. These trainings can help those with hearing issues feel more comfortable before actually getting behind the wheel of a vehicle.
Purchase a Visor Card for Communications While Driving
A visor card can be an excellent option for those driving with hearing loss. These cards allow hard-of-hearing or deaf drivers to communicate more clearly with emergency workers and law enforcement with multiple traffic-related images. The two different options for visor cards include:
- Hard of Hearing Visor Card: This card is used by those that aren’t entirely deaf but rely on hearing aids and speech reading.
- Deaf Visor Card: This card is for those who are completely deaf and communicate through American Sign Language.
Speak with Your Doctor Before Driving with Hearing Loss
With over 70 years of experience providing hearing care to the St. Louis metropolitan area, the audiologists at Associated Hearing Professionals can offer guidance on how to drive safely with hearing loss. Contact us today for more info and guidance.