For deaf or hard-of-hearing drivers, being pulled over by police can cause more anxiety than just getting a ticket.

The worry: the officer approaches the car, the driver doesn’t respond to commands, and the situation escalates.

That’s one reason many states, including Oregon, are setting up ways to alert law enforcement that a driver is deaf or hard of hearing — before an officer approaches the driver.

As of Jan. 3, Oregonians can add an indicator that they are deaf or hard of hearing to their vehicle registration, driver’s license, permit or ID card through DMV2U.Oregon.gov.

The option places an indicator on their record, allowing Oregon officers to see the indicator from their patrol vehicles when they run the license plate or license number.

The indicator is voluntary, and people can sign up any time through DMV2U. If they want to add an indicator to both their license/permit/ID card and their vehicle registration, they will need to do each separately at DMV2U.

“This significant milestone is geared to build trust and cooperation between more than one million Oregonians with hearing loss and our law enforcement,” Chad A. Ludwig, executive director of Bridges Oregon, said. “It will foster a better understanding of communication needs while protecting and facilitating a strong relationship with law enforcement officers.”

Ludwig said more than half (51.7 percent) of deaf and hard-of-hearing Oregon residents had difficulties communicating with police, according to a survey by Denise Thew Hackett, a Ph.D. at Western Oregon University. WOU published the survey results in a community-based needs assessment of Oregon’s deaf and hard of hearing communities in 2016.

This new DMV service is part of the Oregon Department of Transportation’s commitment to transportation safety and a direct benefit of new technology investments that have accelerated DMV’s ability to launch new services and better serve Oregonians.

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