Don’t take your eyes off the road. While this may be sound advice, how about your other senses? For example, think about how much work your ears are doing while driving. You’re using your ears to connect with other individuals in your vehicle, alert you to important info coming up on your dashboard, and help you track other vehicles.
So when you’re coping with hearing impairment, the way you drive can vary. That doesn’t automatically mean you will have to quit driving because you’ve become overly dangerous. Distracted driving and inexperience are greater liabilities when it comes to safety. Nevertheless, some special precautions should 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 loss may be influencing your situational awareness.
How your driving could be impacted by hearing loss
Vision is the main sense utilized when driving. Even full-blown hearing loss most likely won’t stop you from driving, but it very likely might change the way you drive. While driving you do use your hearing a great deal, after all. Some typical examples include:
- If has any damage, your sense of hearing can let you know. If your motor is knocking or you have an exhaust leak, for instance.
- Even though most vehicles are designed to decrease road noise, your sense of hearing can add to your awareness of other vehicles. You will usually be able to hear an oncoming truck, for instance.
- Other drivers will often use their horns to alert you to their presence. For instance, if you start drifting into another lane or you remain stopped at a green light, a horn can make you aware of your error before dangerous things happen.
- Your vehicle will often make audible noises and alerts in order to alert you to something (turn signals or unbuckled seat belts, for instance).
- Emergency vehicles can often be heard before they can be seen.
By utilizing all of these audio cues, you will be developing stronger situational awareness. As your hearing loss progresses, you might be missing more and more of these cues. But there are measures you can take to ensure you still remain as safe as you can while driving.
New safe driving habits to develop
It’s no problem if you want to continue driving even after developing hearing loss! Stay safe out on the road with these tips:
- Minimize in-car noises: It will be challenging for your ears to isolate sounds when you’re going through hearing loss. When the wind is blowing and your passenger is talking, it may become easy for your ears to get overstimulated, which can cause you to become distracted and tired. So put up your window, turn down the music, and keep conversations to a minimum when driving.
- Keep your phone out of reach: Even if your hearing is strong, this one is still smart advice. Phones are among the highest causes of distraction on the road today. And when you have hearing loss that distraction is at least twice as much. You will simply be safer when you put away your phone and it could save your life.
- Keep an eye on your dash lights.: Typically, when you need to give attention to your instrument panel, your vehicle will beep or make some other sound. So periodically glance down to see if any dash lights are on.
- Check your mirrors more often: 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 road ready
If you suffer from hearing loss, driving is one of those situations where having a hearing aid can really help. And there are a few ways you can be certain your hearing aid is a real advantage when you’re driving:
- Get the most recent updates and keep your hearing aid clean and charged: You don’t want your hearing aid batteries to quit right in the middle of a drive to the store. That can distract you and could even create a dangerous situation. So make sure everything is in good working order and the batteries are charged.
- Ask us for a “driving” setting: If you anticipate doing a fair amount of driving, you can ask us to program a “car” setting on your hearing aid. The size of the interior of your vehicle and the fact that your passengers will be talking to you from the side or rear will be the variables we will use to fine tune this “car setting” for easier safer driving.
- Wear your hearing aid each time you drive: If you don’t use it, it won’t help! So make certain you’re using your hearing aids each time you drive. This will also help your brain acclimate to the sounds your hearing aid sends your way.
Plenty of people with hearing loss keep driving and hearing aids make the process easier and safer. Your drive will be pleasant and your eyes will stay focused on the road if you establish safe driving habits.