by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
A young lady wrote,
I am hoping to get my learner’s license soon. I have some questions. How do you deal with the cops when you are driving? What are you supposed to do when you can’t hear? Do you have any advice about driving with hearing loss?
As far as dealing with the police, the easiest way is to avoid having to get up close and personal with them in the first place. The way you do this is to always obey the traffic laws—no speeding, no running stop signs or red lights, signal before changing lanes, wear your seat belt, no drinking and driving, don’t use your cell phone when driving, etc. When you do this the police will leave you alone. In fact, your chances of being stopped by the police will be almost nil. I know. This has worked for me after driving for more decades than I care to remember.
However, there are always situations beyond your control where you may be unceremoniously pulled over by the police, and they may not be thinking of you very kindly at that moment either. This is when you need to be prepared and do all the right things because you can’t hear what they are telling you.
For example, you may be unlucky enough to have been driving the same make and color of car as the getaway car seen leaving the scene of a violent robbery. It is at night so you can’t see to speechread the officers. What you do next will make the difference between the police treating you and your hearing loss with respect, or finding yourself manhandled and thrown face-down in the mud.
Before you find yourself in such a situation, you need to read my article called “Visor Cards—Bridging the Communications Gap When Stopped by the Police“. This article explains how you can effectively use special visor cards to make the police aware that you can’t hear them. Furthermore, in this article there is a link for downloading and printing your own visor cards for free (or you can purchase them already made up if you so desire).
Tens of thousands of people have already downloaded these visor cards. They are well accepted by police departments. In fact, a number of police departments have asked my permission to print up and distribute these visor cards in their own areas.
In addition to being prepared for the police stopping you, you also need to learn how to drive safely when you can’t hear the warning sirens of emergency vehicles near you. You can learn a number of tips and tricks that will help you in such situations in my article called “Driving Safely with Hearing Loss“.
I wish you well in your driving adventures in the future. Put the tips in these articles in place, and you can expect decades of trouble-free driving in spite of your hearing loss.