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Start > Resource centre > Articles > Deafness and driving licenses? Part 1

Deaf people do not get their share of sympathy and are often not fully understood. This is particularly true of deaf drivers. It is often suggested that the hard of hearing cannot be as good or as safe drivers as others. Yet research carried out in New Zealand into the causes of more than 30,000 accidents showed that deafness was not regarded as responsible in a single incident.

In the United States, almost all licensing officers consider deaf drivers to be quite as safe - indeed safer - than average. There is a reason for this. These drivers are so well aware of their disability, and of the prejudices against them, that they take more than average care when driving. They concentrate more on the job. Indeed, one insurance company revealed that although eight per cent of policy-holders make some sort of claim each year, only between three and four per cent of claims are made by people with defective hearing.

There are, of course, varying degrees of deafness. There is the deafness of the lad who never hears his mother asking him to do something. And at the other end of the scale there is the so-called stone-deaf patient. If a driver has some degree of deafness and wears a hearing-aid, the question is often asked whether, if he wears it during his driving test, he ought never to drive without it. Some countries insist on this, but I feel it is unreasonable.

Teacher: Michael
Many articles taken from 'A word with the doctor', by Dr. John Windsor.


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