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New program aims to help drivers with communication disabilities

Driving car on city street

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced on June 16 the Texas Driving with Disability (DWD) Program that provides an opportunity for law enforcement personnel to interact more appropriately and successfully with Texans who may have a communication disabilities.

This first-in-the-nation program is a statewide collaborative effort between the Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities (GCPD), Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), and Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (TxDMV) that gives Texans the option to identify communication impairments on both driver’s licenses and vehicle registrations. The program also makes available training modules for law enforcement officers to better understand how to interact with Texans who have a communication challenge or deafness.

“Texas is proud to once again lead the nation with our first-of-its-kind Driving with Disability Program,” said Governor Abbott. “The State of Texas takes pride in ensuring every Texan can drive safely and confidently on our roads, and I thank the Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities, Texas Department of Public Safety, and Texas Department of Motor Vehicles for their collaborative efforts that will facilitate better interactions between law enforcement and Texans with communication challenges across the Lone Star State.”

“We thank everyone who worked tirelessly to give law enforcement this important tool to do their jobs more effectively,” said DPS Director Steve McCraw. “This simple addition to a driver’s license or vehicle registration removes a potential barrier and can give officers the knowledge they need to help make sure everyone feels comfortable and safe.”

“We all share responsibility for promoting safe and positive interactions on Texas roads,” said TxDMV Executive Director Daniel Avitia. “Adding a communication impediment notation to a vehicle record provides law enforcement access to the information they need when approaching a driver during a traffic stop, ensuring the interaction is productive and safe for all parties.”

In 2019, Governor Abbott signed the Samuel Allen Law establishing the DWD Program, formerly known as Driving with Autism. The program is administered by the GCPD, DPS, and TxDMV to facilitate stronger communication between law enforcement personnel and Texans who are deaf or have a communication challenge, such as Autism. Through DWD, Texans have the option to disclose their communication challenge when registering their vehicles through TxDMV in addition to DPS’ Communication Impediment code on state issued driver’s licenses and IDs. Communication Impediment will be privately placed in the Texas Law Enforcement Telecommunication System (TLETS), alerting law enforcement officers of communication challenges before approaching vehicles in pull-over scenarios.

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