Deaf and Hard‐of‐Hearing Drivers: Making the Highways Safer for Everyone

One of the primary goals of the United States Department of Transportation is to make the U.S. transportation system the safest in the world. In order to fulfill this goal it is important to understand how to improve highway safety for all users – including those users that may have different sensory inputs than the general population. In fact, some highway users belong to groups with special needs that have not been studied previously. The purpose of this proposed research is to initiate the creation of a body of knowledge regarding deaf and hard of hearing drivers. Recent preliminary data mining has revealed that deaf and hard of hearing (D/HH) drivers are nearly three times more likely to be involved in motor vehicle accidents (MVA) and 1.5 to 9 times more likely to have serious injuries or die as a result of an MVA. In order to improve multi-modal transportation safety one needs to fully understand the mechanisms and situations causing the increased risk in the D/HH driving community. Once these areas are understood, technologies and educational programs can be developed to mitigate the risk. Unfortunately, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) very little or no research has been conducted in this specific area anywhere on this planet. The Rochester Institute of Technology and National Technical Institute for the Deaf comprise a team that is uniquely qualified to perform this much needed research. In this age of rapid development of self-driving cars it will eventually be important to understand if the deaf may comprise a unique community that would be significantly aided by this advanced technology. Given that the primary form of communication of the deaf is visual, and driving has been found to require over 90% visual input it would be logical to conclude that if the deaf are communicating while driving not all of their visual awareness is being applied to the driving task. Deaf drivers could be found to be a succinct group perhaps with the most to gain by using crash-avoidance and self-driving car technology since it would fill in the gaps in visual attentional to the highway environment.


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $77468
  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology

    University Transportation Centers Program
    Department of Transportation
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Managing Organizations:

    University Transportation Research Center

    City College of New York
    Marshak Hall, Suite 910, 160 Convent Avenue
    New York, NY  United States  10031
  • Project Managers:

    Eickemeyer, Penny

  • Performing Organizations:

    Rochester Institute of Technology

    Brighton, NY   
  • Principal Investigators:

    Gordon, Martin

  • Start Date: 20160901
  • Expected Completion Date: 20180630
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • USDOT Program: University Transportation Centers

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01608024
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: University Transportation Research Center
  • Files: UTC, RIP
  • Created Date: Aug 25 2016 3:51PM