Don’t take your eyes off the road. While this might be sound advice, what about your other senses? Your ears, for example, are doing a ton of work when you’re driving, helping you track other vehicles, calling your attention to information on your dashboard, and keeping you connected with the other individuals in your vehicle.
So how you drive can change if you’re experiencing hearing loss. That doesn’t automatically mean you will have to quit driving because you’ve become excessively dangerous. With regards to safety, inexperience and distracted driving are much bigger liabilities. Nevertheless, some specific precautions need to be taken by people with hearing loss to ensure they keep driving as safely as possible.
Establishing good driving habits can go a long way to help you remain a safe driver even if hearing impairment may be influencing your situational awareness.
How hearing loss may be affecting your driving
Vision is the primary sense utilized when driving. Even full-blown hearing loss most likely won’t stop you from driving, but it very likely could change how you drive. While driving you do use your hearing a lot, after all. Here are some prevalent examples:
- If another driver needs to make you aware of their presence, they will often use their horn. If you fail to see the light turn to green, for example, or you start to wander into the other lane, a horn can alert you before it becomes a problem.
- Audible alerts will sound when your car is attempting to alert you to something, like an unbuckled seat belt or an open door.
- If your car has any damage, your sense of hearing can let you know. If your motor is rapping or you have an exhaust leak, for example.
- You can usually hear emergency vehicles before you see them.
- Even though most vehicles are designed to decrease road noise, your sense of hearing can raise your awareness of other vehicles. You will usually be able to hear an oncoming truck, for instance.
All of these audio cues can help develop your overall situational awareness. You may start to miss more and more of these audio cues as your hearing loss advances. But you can practice some positive steps to keep your driving as safe as possible.
New safe driving habits to develop
If you’re experiencing hearing loss and you want to continue to drive, that’s okay! Here are some ways you can be certain to remain safe when out on the road:
- Keep interior noise to a minimum: It will be challenging for your ears to isolate noises when you have hearing loss. When the wind is howling and your passengers are talking, it may become easy for your ears to grow overwhelmed, which can cause you to become distracted and tired. So when you’re driving, it’s a good idea to lower the volume on your radio, keep discussions to a minimum, and put up your windows.
- Put your phone away: Even if your hearing is strong, this one is still smart advice. Phones are among the leading causes of distraction on the road these days. And when you have hearing loss that distraction is at least doubled. You will simply be safer when you put your phone away and it could save your life.
- Don’t ignore your dash lights: Usually, your car will ding or beep when you need to look at your instrument panel for some reason. So periodically glance down to see if any dash lights are on.
- Pay extra attention to your mirrors: Even with sirens blaring, you may not hear that ambulance coming up behind you. So be vigilant about checking your mirrors. And keep the possible presence of emergency vehicles in mind.
Keeping your hearing aid ready for the road
If you suffer from hearing loss, driving is one of those scenarios where wearing a hearing aid can really come in handy. And when you’re driving, utilize these tips to make your hearing aids a real advantage:
- Use your hearing aid each time you drive: If you don’t wear it, it won’t help! So every time you drive, be sure you’re wearing your hearing aids. By doing this, your brain will have an easier time getting used to the incoming sounds.
- Keep your hearing aids clean, charged, and updated: You don’t want your hearing aid batteries to quit right when you’re driving to the store. That can be distracting and perhaps even dangerous. So be sure everything is working properly and the batteries are charged.
- Ask us for a “driving” setting: We can program a car setting into your hearing aid if you do a lot of driving. This setting will be calibrated for the inside space and configuration of your vehicle (where, normally, your conversation partner is beside and not in front of you), making your drive easier and more pleasant.
Hearing loss doesn’t mean driving is an issue, especially with hearing aids which make it safer and easier. Your drive will be enjoyable and your eyes will stay focused on the road if you establish safe driving habits.