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CarCashBuyers Investigates: Can Hearing-Impaired People Drive?

Can A Deaf Person Drive

At CarCashBuyers one of our goals is to empower and educate our customers of all backgrounds and abilities to learn about the vehicle industry. This week, we are investigating the ins and outs of the hearing-impaired driving experience. From learning the current laws on deaf drivers to viewing cutting edge technology that may assist deaf drivers this is an investigation we can’t wait to share with our readers! Read on to discover more!

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Brief History of Hearing-Impaired Driving in the United States

Similar to many groups that may need extra assistance navigating the world, the hearing-impaired have struggled and fought for access to the most basic of rights as explained by an author from AxleAddict magazine. “The right to drive is not a trivial one—without it, Deaf people are restricted in their ability to work and to access medical, community, and other services. The Deaf community has had to fight for this important right. In the United States in the 1920s, when states were adopting their first motor vehicle laws, several states enacted laws denying Deaf people the right to obtain driver's licenses. By educating hearing people that Deaf drivers posed no threat to public safety, the National Association of the Deaf and its state committees were able to win the repeal of these discriminatory laws.5 While Deaf people in all 50 U.S. states have the right to drive, they still face discrimination in some aspects of driving. For example, until 2006, UPS refused to hire Deaf drivers because of safety concerns, which a federal court eventually ruled to be unfounded.6 In addition, some Deaf people have reported being denied the ability to rent or test drive a car. Others find that if they do become involved in an accident, it can be harder to prove they weren’t at fault since many hearing people make the assumption that Deaf people can’t drive safely.” 

As we can see from the research completed above from AxleAddict, it has not been an easy feat for hearing-impaired drivers to gain access to vehicles and then be allowed to drive them on the open roads. Even to this current day, advocacy groups are fighting to give the hearing-impaired the same rights to drive as someone with average hearing abilities. Next, we will tackle the most current laws on the situation and see how these laws have positively or negatively affected our hearing-impaired vehicle enthusiasts.


What Are The Current  Laws Surrounding Hearing-Impaired Drivers?

One of the important aspects of any driver especially one who may need extra time and help is to know your rights backward and forwards. For the hearing-impaired, many nuances accompany your driving so here are some “on the books” laws you should be aware of when getting behind the wheel. To fully round out our investigation into this topic we went to the National Association of the Deaf to learn more. The NAD, according to its website is,  “The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) is the nation’s premier civil rights organization of, by and for deaf and hard of hearing individuals in the United States of America. Established in 1880, the NAD was shaped by deaf leaders who believed in the right of the American deaf community to use sign language, to congregate on issues important to them, and to have its interests represented at the national level. These beliefs remain true to this day, with American Sign Language as a core value.” This is a fantastic resource for anyone to become educated on anything and everything hear-impaired. 

Unfortunately, even with NAD paving the way for main hearing-impaired to start their driving journey there are still roadblocks that need to be overcome. For example, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has a series of seven questions in Part 391 of their Regulations that illustrate who is “qualified” to get behind the wheel and who is not.  The problem that NAD has with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is with rule 49. NAD charges that Rule 49, “Effectively bars many qualified deaf and hard of hearing individuals from certain types of employment.” Due to this Rule 49, there may be some hearing-impaired individuals who qualify to drive and others that do not. 

However, not all hope is lost. Recently, NAD has put forth a call seeking Deaf Truck Drivers! This is an exciting revelation not only during a current pandemic but also for hearing-impaired individuals looking to get out on the open roads. There recently has been an exemption in the Department of Transportation that states, “The DOT has granted a limited number of exemptions to operate Class B vehicles without airbrakes to safe drivers who are deaf or hard of hearing and cannot pass the DOT’s hearing test.” This means that even if the potential commercial truck driver failed the test due to a hearing impairment the qualified candidate may fill out a specialized form to get the ball rolling again. This is just one of the many ways NAD has been able to help hearing-impaired individuals learn the laws and how to advocate for themselves in these challenging times. 

New Driving Technology For Deaf People

Now that we have briefly gone over the history of driving for deaf people and some of the current laws in place now we turn to the future. Many vehicle companies from Subaru to Hyundai are making advancements in technology to make driving on the open roads safer for every driver and passenger, especially those drivers who are deaf. We scoured the internet to find the top three vehicle brands that are creating exciting technology to create a safer, more enjoyable driving experience for all. 

1. Subaru EyeSight Technology

Subaru Eyesight Technology is a brand-new technology that comes equipped in all 2019 Subaru makes and models. Also, this technology is ready to roll in many of its most popular models from the Outback, Impreza, and many more. According to the Subaru website, “The core of the EyeSight system is its set of dual color cameras. Intelligently and unobtrusively placed near the rearview mirror, they scan the road for unanticipated dangers. This advanced system provides extra awareness, safety, and added peace of mind every time you drive. Watch the videos below to see how each component of EyeSight works together to bring you a safer road ahead.” For further review, you can check out the Subaru website linked above where you can view links to the videos, showcasing how the EyeSight technology works in real-time. This recently added Subaru technology is essential to those hearing-impaired drivers who rely heavily on sight to stay alert and focused on the open roads in the city streets. 

2. Hyundai Quiet Taxi

Released in January 2019, Hyundai is making great strides to include the hearing-impaired in their driving families even all in countries like Japan. According to an official document produced by Hyundai, “The technology utilizes artificial intelligence to analyze the external sound patterns and employs two separate driving assist systems that work together simultaneously – the Audio-Visual Conversion (AVC) and Audio-Tactile Conversion (ATC), to help hearing-impaired drivers who have an acute, highly developed sense of touch and attuned visual capabilities.”  


The article continued, “The AVC allows for safer driving, by enabling communication with the external environment through visual portrayals of sound patterns, such as warning sounds of emergency vehicles, as pictograms on the head-up display (HUD). The steering wheel is also equipped with multi-colored LEDs which indicate navigational information while driving. The ATC transfers the sound data into vibrations through the steering wheel, notifying the driver of information about external environments such as distance from obstacles.” This is another exciting step for Hyundai. Although, the technology has yet to be implemented in any vehicles as of this publication we are eagerly awaiting to see how this technology can positively impact deaf drivers all over the country and the world.


3. Heads Up Display

Fortunately, the heads up display technology are not bound to any one vehicle brand. From Mazda vehicles to BMW vehicles there is sure to be a vehicle that has heads up display. In a nutshell, heads up display is driver technology that displays temperature, speed, gas mileage and so much more. The great thing about heads up display technology is the number of models already on the market for you to test out and buy for your vehicle. One example is  Arpenkin HUD X5. This piece of heads up display technology is simple but also only rings up to be $33. So, if you are short on cash this may be a great option for your wallet. The Arpenkin offers drivers a display of vehicle speed, engine’s revolutions, and even temperature. The wallet-sized item affixes to your dashboard so you can always have these numbers in an easy to see place while driving your vehicle. Another great feature about this product is it can be stuck on any dashboard no matter what make or model. There are also many varieties of this technology out in the market ranging from $33 to $50 and most can be found on Amazon. 


CarCashBuyers Investigation: Can Deaf People Drive? Wrap Up

We started our investigation with a simple question, “can deaf people drive?” The simple answer is, yes but with some restrictions. However, as we discovered through research getting a driver’s license is not always an easy feat and is still a problem for many hearing-impaired individuals. Thankfully, advocacy groups like NAD are making extremes strides to help those hearing-impaired to find ways to gain access and freedom that so many of us take for granted. Our final piece of the investigation centered on three types of driving technology that has been produced from Subaru and Hyundai. Subaru has come out with the Eyesight Technology and Hyundai is gaining speed with QuietTaxi technology. Also, we covered a few forms of heads up display technology which are available online and can be used in a large variety of makes and models. If you would like to learn even more about CarCashBuyers check out our blog page where we post helpful tips, tricks, and answer your burning vehicle questions. Lastly, if you have a vehicle to sell or trade-in don’t hesitate to give the experts at CarCashBuyers a call today. We are excited to meet you and see how we can help! 

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