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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Do I Have to Wear My Hearing Aids When I Drive?

My last post on Switched at Birth raised the topic of deaf drivers. It got me to thinking more about the Hearing Aids restriction F on my own drivers license. I wrote about how I came to get that restriction on this post last year about renewing my drivers license. At that time I assumed it meant that I need to wear my hearing aids when driving just as the restriction B on my drivers license requires me to wear glasses or corrective lenses.

So that's what I've been doing until last week when I drove by myself to the beach. There was no way I was going to risk ruining my hearing aids by exposing them to the sand and water. But I couldn't very well leave them in the car because heat would wreck them too. The best option was to leave them at home.

It felt very freeing to drive without them. The road noise on the highway didn't bother me the way it does when I wear my hearing aids. I didn't have any passengers so there wasn't any strain to participate in conversation. But still I wondered if I were doing the right thing.

Yesterday I did a little research online and found out that in Illinois restriction F on a driver's license simply requires me to have two outside mirrors according to this state government website. There is no mention of having to wear hearing aids while driving. That was a huge relief to me. Now I feel comfortable about using my own judgment about whether or not to wear my hearing aids.


Magic Ear Kids said...

That is my understanding of it too. Lots of people don't use hearing aids even though they should and they're out driving. My grandpa drove until about a year ago. He would frequently turn the key even though the car was already running. He couldn't hear the engine noise. He's 90 and now uses a chauffeur!

Hope you enjoy your freedom with many more beach days!

Dianrez said...

Makes a lot of sense. Don't you think that it makes one more visually aware to have no distraction from hearing?

Driving is a visually demanding activity--hearing, if used at all, is usually only for radio or conversation--rarely used for warning sounds as they are so easily masked by these.

Liz said...

That's great. I know I wouldn't take my hearing to the beach because of damaging them. :)

Anonymous said...

it depends on the state. in my state, theres no hearing test nor they require u to report it. BUT if you want police to know you are deaf, you have to get a written note from the ENT (or audiologist?).Again, this is not required if you think you are capable of noticing emergency vechicle on your own.

everyone in my states use mirrors (left,right,rear) and require to know how to use them properly

SpeakUp Librarian said...

I agree, Dianrez.

Sherlock Steve said...

In some states, if you are hearing impaired, you CAN be required to wear your hearing aids. just be aware of that.

But, there's one other restriction: Dual mirrors or FULL REAR VIEW mirrors. This is kind of a subsitute for the hearing aid, but it's a greater safety measure.

One thing is, make sure you are looking at your mirrors often because you never know if a cop or ambulance comes up behind you.

Drive safe!

(e said...

I think it is interesting when some people are concerned about deaf and hard of hearing drivers, because they might not hear horns honking and sirens, when I know a lot of people who blast their music while driving, talk on the phone, and even wear headphones listening to music.

SpeakUp Librarian said...

Hi Sherlock Steve,
Do you know which states require you to wear hearing aids?

Anonymous said...

It amuses me that any department of motor vehicles in any state would be concerned about whether or not you can hear. So many "normal hearing" people either have their radios blasting, are plugged into their ipods or yaking on their cells that they wouldn't hear sirens anyway! Those of us who are more visual because of our hearing loss probably use our mirrors more effectively than the general population.

Seek Geo said...

I have never heard such a thing that a state would actually require us to wear hearing aids to drive. I need links to prove me wrong - I even googled everywhere and no such luck.

I had driver's license in the past with CT, NY, WA, OR, FL, SC, & UT as well as Washington D.C. Not once they asked about HAs, just gotta pass visual test.

Driving is all about visual, nothing more or less.

Anonymous said...

I have known many deaf people who do not wear HAs in various states and have a driver's license. I have driven without my HAs.