NEW JERSEY – When a deaf motorist is pulled over by police for a traffic violation, the hearing impediment and inability to converse with the officer can result in an interaction that is unpredictable and potentially dangerous.
Legislation sponsored by Senator Steve Oroho and approved by the Senate Transportation Committee Thursday addresses the issue by requiring a notation on the vehicle’s registration certificate indicating the driver hearing impairment.
“The last thing we want is the inability to communicate to lead to an escalation of tensions,” Oroho said. “When an officer is unable to understand what an individual is trying to say, sudden movements or gestures can be taken as signs of aggression. This bill will help prevent car stops from getting out of hand, providing clarity and understanding between drivers and law enforcement officers.”
Oroho’s legislation (S-1740) would requires the chief administrator of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission to place a notation on a vehicle’s registration certificate indicating the registrant is deaf. Applicants would be issued a special registration certificate with their preference of either the international symbol for deafness or a numerical code designating deafness.
The bill, suggested to Oroho by members of the deaf community, is intended to compensate for gaps in training that fail to prepare police academy graduates for interactions with the deaf community.
“The addition of an icon signifying a hearing impairment will improve communication between police officer and motorists during traffic stops,” said Oroho. “This sensible change will result in greater safety for motorists and officers.”