Q: “What difficulties do deaf people have when driving an automobile?”

A: Some auto dealers refuse to let deaf people test-drive a car, claiming that it’s too risky. In fact, deaf drivers have a better overall safety record than their hearing counterparts do. Since driving is primarily a visual activity, deaf drivers often excel. Nonetheless, hey have faced various forms of discrimination for nearly a century. Charging deaf people more for insurance is an old injustice, but nowadays, deaf drivers aren’t necessarily charged more because they’re deaf. As for licensing, deaf people take the same tests hearing drivers do. They may be required to have a wide-angle rear-view mirror. In Illinois, they can have an optional "J88" code added to their license, for the benefit of highway police. But some folks have the odd notion that deaf people can’t drive cars, and are surprised to learn that they assuredly can, and perhaps more surprised to learn that they’re good at it.

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