Driving with Hearing Loss

Hearing loss affects around nine million people in the UK in some form, and with around 35 million cars on the roads, that’s a lot of drivers who struggle with some kind of hearing loss. There are usually a lot of evident signs that a driver has an issue, including having the radio up loud in the car, asking their passenger to repeat what they said or the inability to hear a car beeping the horn behind them and the only way that the person might become aware of the issue is when they are encouraged to visit hearing care professional like Hidden Hearing to be tested.

A common belief among road users is that because someone has an issue with their hearing, they simply shouldn’t be allowed to drive on the roads. Many believe that the deaf and hard of hearing are at greater risk of being involved in an accident but this has yet to be proven by any research.

There are a number of factors that lead people to believe that those with hearing lossare actually very good drivers, one of which being that it enhances the other senses such as their all-round vision, helping them to stay alert and conscious of what and who is around them at all times while on the road. There is also a view that those who don’t have issues with their hearing tend to listen to louder music on the radio and are, therefore, less attentive and more at risk of being involved in an accident.

If you are deaf, you may need to inform the DVLA of your condition depending on the type of vehicle you’re driving. According to the Gov.uk website, you don’t need to tell the DVLA to obtain a car or motorcycle license, but you must tell them if you are applying for a bus, coach or lorry license. There are a number of reasons why people should be cautious about people driving with hearing loss, the obvious ones being that they’re unable to hear emergency services behind them and they’re having to rely on their sight. However, some manufacturers are believed to be developing a form of GPS system that sits in the vehicle and alerts the driver to the police, ambulance or fire service that might be coming up behind them.

Nations such as Australia are attempting to bring in regulations relating to driving on the roads with a hearing loss, but at the moment there are no plans in Britain to make any changes to the regulations which currently only require commercial drivers with a hearing loss of more than 40dB to undergo regular checks on their hearing and to be given a conditional license as opposed to the full version.

Ella Mason, an experienced freelance writer, wrote this article. Ella specialises in providing useful and engaging advice to small businesses. Follow her on Twitter @ellatmason