Don’t take your eyes off the road. While this might be sound advice, what about your other senses? Your ears, for instance, are doing a ton of work when you’re driving, helping you keep track of other vehicles, alerting you to info on your dashboard, and keeping you connected with the other individuals in your vehicle.
So when you experience hearing impairment, the way you drive can change. That’s not to say your driving will become prohibitively dangerous. Distracted driving and inexperience are larger liabilities when it comes to safety. That being said, those with decreased hearing should take some special safeguards to remain as safe 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 your driving could be impacted by hearing loss
Vision is the main sense utilized when driving. Even complete hearing loss probably won’t keep you from driving, but it very likely may change the way you drive. After all, you use your hearing quite a bit while you’re driving. Some prevalent examples include:
- Even though most vehicles are designed to reduce road noise, your sense of hearing can raise your awareness of other vehicles. You will usually be able to hear an oncoming truck, for example.
- Your hearing will often alert you when your car is damaged in some way. If your motor is rapping or you have an exhaust leak, for example.
- If another motorist needs to make you aware of their presence, they will often use their horn. For instance, if you begin to drift into another lane or you remain stopped at a green light, a horn can clue you in to your mistake before dangerous things happen.
- Audible alerts will sound when your vehicle is trying to alert you to something, such as an unbuckled seat belt or an open door.
- You can usually hear emergency vehicles before you see them.
By utilizing all of these audio cues, you will be developing better situational awareness. As your hearing loss advances, you might be missing more and more of these cues. But you can practice some positive steps to keep your driving as safe as possible.
Developing new safe driving habits
If you’re experiencing hearing loss and you want to keep driving, that’s okay! Stay safe out on the road using these tips:
- Keep your phone out of reach: Well, this is good advice whether you have hearing loss or not. Phones are among the highest causes of distraction on the road today. And that goes double when you try to use them with hearing loss. You will simply be safer when you put your phone away and it could save your life.
- Keep an eye on your dash lights.: Normally, your car will beep or ding when you need to look at your instrument panel for something. So regularly glance down to see if any dash lights are on.
- Check your mirrors more often: You may not be able to hear an ambulance pull up behind you–even with all those sirens going. So be vigilant about checking your mirrors. And keep the possible presence of emergency vehicles in mind.
- Minimize in-car noises: It will be challenging for your ears to distinguish noises when you have hearing loss. It could be easy for your ears to become overstimulated and for you to get distracted if you have passengers loudly speaking and music playing and wind blowing in your ears. So roll up your window, turn down the volume, and keep the talking to a minimum when driving.
Keeping your hearing aid road ready
If you have hearing loss, driving is one of those instances where having a hearing aid can really help. And there are several ways you can make sure your hearing aid is a real asset when you’re driving:
- Wear your hearing aid each time you drive: If you don’t wear it, it can’t help! So make sure you’re wearing your hearing aids each time you drive. By doing this, your brain will have an easier time getting used to the incoming sounds.
- Keep your hearing aids clean, updated, and charged: You don’t want your hearing aid batteries to die right in the middle of a drive to the store. That can be distracting and maybe even dangerous. So keep your batteries charged and ensure everything’s working properly.
- Have us program a driving setting for you: If you anticipate doing a fair amount of driving, you can ask us to give you a “car” setting on your hearing aid. The size of the inside 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 optimize this “car setting” for smoother safer driving.
Lots of individuals with hearing loss continue to drive and hearing aids make the process safer and easier. Developing safer driving habits can help ensure that your drive is enjoyable and that your eyes stay safely on the road.