Does a hearing loss prevent you from driving?

November 13, 2012
Are there restrictions preventing the hard of hearing from driving?Many people with hearing loss are scared of losing the right to drive because of their hearing impairment.

This fear can intensify among professional drivers for whom driving is their livelihood.

The Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec has set certain conditions for individuals with hearing loss who possess a class 2 (bus) and/or 4 (emergency vehicles, small bus/minibus and taxicab) license.

This condition states that a person with a hearing loss (with or without a hearing aid) greater than 40 dB (average of 500, 1,000, and 2,000 Hz) in the better ear will not be permitted to drive a vehicle of the classes mentioned above.

The same condition applies for those driving in the United States and includes classes 1, 2, 3 and 4B.

Reminder on licence classes

  • Class 1 : Heavy vehicle combination
  • Class 2 : Bus
  • Class 3 : Straight truck
  • Class 4A : Emergency vehicle
  • Class 4B : Small bus or minibus
  • Class 4C : Taxicab
  • Class 5 : Passenger vehicle
  • Class 6A : All motorcycles
  • Class 6B : Cylinder size of 400 cc or less
  • Class 6C : Cylinder size of 125 cc or less
  • Class 6D : Moped or motorized
  • Class 6E : hree-wheeled
  • Class 8 : Farm tractor
Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec, 2011

It should be noted that a medical assessment is required if a driver wishes to obtain a license for one of these classes. Other medical assessments are also required when the driver reaches ages 45, 55, 60, 65, and every two years thereafter.

For drivers with licenses other than those mentioned above, no criteria applies. Therefore, there are no rules preventing a person with a hearing loss from driving a passenger vehicle in Quebec.

Studies have shown that compared to the general population, a person who was born deaf will not cause any more accidents or violate the Highway Safety Code.
If you have any questions on this topic, please do not hesitate to contact an audiologist at a Lobe Santé auditive et communication multidisciplinary clinic.
References:
– Booher, H.R. (1978). ”Effects of visual and auditory impairment in driving performance,” Human Factors, 20, 307–319.
– Les Publications du Québec (2001). Regulation respecting access to driving a road vehicle in connection with the health of drivers. Found at: http://www2.publicationsduquebec.gouv.qc.ca/dynamicSearch/telecharge.php?type=2&file=//C_24_2/C24_2R8_A.htm
– Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec. Classes of driver’s licence. Found at: http://www.saaq.gouv.qc.ca/en/driver_licence/classes/index.php
– Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec. Medical Assessment to Drive in the United States. Found at: http://www.saaq.gouv.qc.ca/publications/lourds/medical_assessment.pdf
– Steinhardt, D., and D. Wishart (2006). “Driver and rider licensing provisions for clients who are d/Deaf,” Journal of the Australasian College of Road Safety, 17(3), 34–39.