Medical Conditions and Driving: A Review of the Literature (1960  2000)
TRD Page
Section1: Introduction
Section 2: Vision
Section 3: Hearing
Section 4: Cardiovascular
Section 5: Cerebrovascular
Section 6: Peripheral Vascular
Section 7: Nervous System
Section 8: Respiratory
Section 9: Metabolic
Section 10: Renal
Section 11: Musculoskeletal
Section 12: Psychiatric
Section 13: Drugs
Section 14: Aging Driver
Section 15: Anesthesia and Surgery
Appendix A
List of Tables
List of Figures
download PDF

Section 3: Hearing


There are few studies that have examined the relationship between hearing impairment and risk of motor vehicle crash. Of those that are available, one study failed to find an association between hearing impairment and risk for injuries sustained in motor vehicle crashes (McCloskey et al., 1994). However, results of that investigation suggest that use of hearing aids by the hearing impaired while driving places the driver at an increased risk of motor vehicle crashes. Two studies have investigated the relationship between hearing impairment and risk of crash (Gresset and Myer, 1994; Ivers et al., 1999). Results from those investigations are mixed. Currently, therefore, there is little evidence to warrant driving restrictions for individuals with hearing impairments from operating private vehicles.

A summary of the current fitness-to-drive guidelines (Hearing Impairments) for medical practitioners from Australia (1998) and Canada (2000) is presented in Table 4.

Table 4  Guidelines for Hearing

(Reproduced with permission)

Guidelines for Hearing (Drivers of Private Vehicles)


Austroads (1998)

CMA (2000)

Totally Deaf

Not addressed.

No restriction.

Hearing Aids

Not addressed.

No restriction.

Some Hearing Loss

No restrictions. As greater reliance on vision is needed, external mirrors are required.

No restriction.

Vestibular Disorders

Acute labyrinthitis, Benign paroxysmal vertigo, Meniere’s Disease, Recurrent Vertigo: Should not drive while symptoms persist.

Acute labyrinthitis Patients with acute labyrinthitis or positional vertigo with horizontal head movement should be advised not to drive at all until their condition has subsided or responded to treatment.

Recurrent attacks of vertigo Patients who are subject to recurrent attacks of vertigo that occur without warning also should not drive until it is certain that their spells of dizziness have been controlled or abated.