Home | Auto Detailing | Can Deaf People Drive? – {All You Need to Know}

Can Deaf People Drive? – {All You Need to Know}

March 15, 2024 | Victor Lukasso

This article explores whether deaf individuals can drive a car in various regions worldwide.

There is a common question on whether deaf individuals are permitted to drive, and if so, who issued their driver’s license. People often ask these questions when they encounter drivers who are deaf.

The answer is that in some parts of the world, deaf individuals are allowed to drive, while in other countries, it is prohibited to ensure the safety of other road users. To learn more about this topic, continue reading.

Am I allowed to drive if I’m deaf or my hearing is impaired?

Driving is not restricted to individuals based on their hearing ability. Deafness or hearing impairment does not significantly affect one’s driving ability, as driving depends on visual perception. Several studies suggest that deaf drivers may perform better as they are less likely to get distracted by sounds from the radio, phones, or passengers.

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However, deaf drivers must adopt specific techniques, such as monitoring side mirrors and being extra vigilant on the road. By being observant and proficient at recognizing visual clues, deaf individuals can safely operate a vehicle and even pursue driving jobs in various companies.

Driving Right For The Deaf

In most countries, deaf people are not restricted from driving and have the same access to public services as those who can hear. However, many deaf communities have had to fight for this right in the past. During the 1920s, in the United States, many states passed laws that prevented deaf people from obtaining driver’s licenses.

Thankfully, after extensive education campaigns by organizations like the National Association of the Deaf, these discriminatory laws were eventually repealed. As a result, deaf people in all 50 US states now have the right to drive, although they still face discrimination in some aspects of driving.

For example, many deaf people have reported being denied the ability to rent or test drive a car due to the assumption that they cannot drive safely. However, studies have shown that deaf drivers are no more dangerous than hearing drivers, and some studies even suggest that deaf people may make better drivers because they are less distracted by sounds.

Deaf Drivers and Safety

Many hearing individuals often question how a deaf person can drive without the ability to hear sounds like sirens or honking horns. However, there are several solutions to these concerns that deaf drivers use in the United States and other countries.

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Some deaf drivers use electronic devices in their vehicles that use a lighted panel to alert them to sounds outside the car. Others rely on visual cues like flashing emergency lights or signals from other drivers. When communicating with police officers, many deaf drivers in the US carry state-issued cards that identify them as deaf and offer suggestions for communication, such as writing in a notebook. However, some deaf drivers find these cards unnecessary if they are skilled at lip-reading.

One may wonder if it is safe for a deaf driver to be on the road without being able to hear what is happening outside the vehicle. Studies have shown that deaf drivers are less likely to be involved in accidents than those who can listen since driving is primarily visual. Furthermore, research suggests that deaf adults have better peripheral vision than those with normal hearing.

Fighting for the Right to Drive Worldwide

According to a report by the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) in 2009, 31 out of 93 national Deaf organizations surveyed stated that Deaf individuals are not permitted to obtain a driver’s license.

However, as 93 countries did not respond to the questionnaire, and considering nearly 200 countries in the world, it remains unclear how many countries prohibit Deaf people from driving. Another WFD report revealed that approximately 26 respondents indicated that Deaf individuals are banned from driving in their country.

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For a list of countries that allow or disallow Deaf individuals to drive, please refer to the list below. Remember that a driver’s license is typically required to drive, and many countries do not automatically grant permissions to Deaf individuals.

Therefore, just because a country allows Deaf individuals to drive, it doesn’t mean they automatically receive a driver’s license.

Countries That Allow Deaf People to Obtain a Driver’s License

1. Africa: Eastern and Southern

Botswana, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe

2. Africa: Western and Central

Burkina Faso, Cameroon, DR Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Nigeria, Sierra Leone

3. Arab Region

Iraq, Bahrain, Algeria, Lebanon, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Palestine, Tunisia, and Saudi Arabia 

4. Asia and Pacific

Australia, Bhutan, Cambodia, Indonesia, India, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal (2012), New Zealand, The Philippines, the Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand

5. Eastern Europe and Middle Asia

Republic of Belarus, Bulgaria, Republic of Kazakhstan, Republic of Moldova, Russian Federation, Republic of Uzbekistan

6. European Union

All countries

7. North America, Central America, and the Caribbean

Canada, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Suriname, USA

8. South America

Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela

Countries That Don’t Allow Deaf People to Obtain a Driver’s License

1. Africa: Eastern and Southern

Burundi, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Sudan, Zambia

2. Africa: Western and Central

Benin, Cape Verde, Chad, Gabon, Niger, Senegal, Togo

3. Arab Region

Egypt, Mauritania, Morocco, United Arab Emirates, Yemen

4. Asia and Pacific


5. Eastern Europe and Middle Asia

Republic of Armenia, Ukraine

6. Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean

Haiti, Nicaragua

7. South America

Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay

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Meet Victor Lukasso, the owner of V. Auto Basics. Through this blog, Victor Provides Insights on the latest tips, maintenance, repair, and techniques in the automotive world.