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Safe driving with hearing loss

Driving and deafness: common questions

Driving plays a crucial role in our lives, particularly in relation to our freedom of movement and effective time management. People often ask themselves whether individuals with a hearing impairment can drive, or whether they are allowed to drive. In both cases, the answer is yes. Neither those who have been deaf since birth nor those who have developed a hearing impairment over time are prohibited from driving. 

Can I drive if I have hearing loss?

Yes, people with hearing impairments may drive without informing DVLA of their physical condition. However, if the vehicle used is a bus, coach or lorry, they are obliged to inform DVLA by filling in the AUD1 form.

Can deaf people get a driving licence?

Individuals with a hearing impairment may obtain a regular driving licence. According to the Highway Code, obtaining a driving licence requires the ability to "perceive the voice of conversation with combined phonemes from each ear at a distance of no less than two metres". If this requirement is met, with the assitance of a hearing aid and confirmed during the preventive medical examination, individuals with a hearing impairment may apply for a regular driving licence. However, this licence will include codes specifying the obligation to wear hearing aids while driving, similar to the requirement or individuals with myopia or other vision problems to wear lenses. Failure to oblige may result in an administrative sanction or the withdrawal of the driving licence

Driving licence

To obtain a driving licence, it is necessary enrol in a driving school and take a theory test. If you have a hearing impairment and intend to take this test, you have the following options: 

  1. Utilize a BSL (British Sign Language) interpreter.
  2. Have a lip speaker present during the test.
  3. Use a listening aid, such as a hearing loop.

Driving lessons with an instructor

With regards to driving lessons for individuals with a hearing impairment, a learner’s permit is issued and driving lessons can begin once the theory test has been passed.

It is strongly recommended to take driving lessons with an instructor proficient in sign language in order to facilitate conversation to better understand any information and directions given. However, if the driving instructor is not familiar with sign language, it is the respondibility of the driving student to ask the instructor to speak slowly in order to read their lips or to use illustrated cards that contain the necessary directions. 

Driving test

The driving test is the same for individuals with and without a hearing impairment. However, if the student driver suffers from total deafness, the examination must be conducted using a vehicle that follows the indications on the certificate of suitability issued by the Local Medical Commission

During this test, the student driver has the option to take the test alone or request the assistance of an interpreter.

Do drivers with hearing problems face challenges?

Individuals with hearing impairments may face various challenges while driving, such as not being able to hear the car engine or the revs of motorbikes. The same holds true for ambulance sirens, sound alerts from public safety vehicles, car horns indicating imminent danger or a warning message from another driver. Therefore, to drive safely and avoid risks, it is essential to always wear your hearing aids while driving, as stated on the driving license itself and as required by national regulations.

An audiologist placing a hearing aid by the Amplifon center

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