Keep your eyes on the road. Obviously, it’s good advice, but it doesn’t speak to your other senses. As an example, think about the amount of work your ears are doing while driving. You’re using your ears to connect with other individuals in your vehicle, alert you to important information appearing on your dashboard, and help you keep track of other vehicles.
So when you’re coping with hearing loss, the way you drive can change. That doesn’t automatically mean you will have to stop driving because you’ve become overly dangerous. With regards to safety, inexperience and distracted driving are much bigger liabilities. That being said, those with decreased hearing should take some specific precautions to remain as safe as possible.
Hearing loss can impact your situational awareness but acquiring good driving habits can help you stay safe while driving.
How your driving might be effected by hearing loss
Vision is the principal sense used when driving. Even full-blown hearing loss most likely won’t stop you from driving, but it very likely might change how you drive. While driving you do use your hearing a great deal, after all. Here are some typical examples:
- You can often hear emergency vehicles before you can see them.
- If another driver needs to make you aware of their presence, they will usually beep their horn. For instance, if you start drifting into another lane or you don’t go at a green light, a horn can clue you in to your error before dangerous things take place.
- Even though many vehicles are designed to reduce road noise, your sense of hearing can raise your awareness of other vehicles. You will typically be able to hear an oncoming truck, for instance.
- If has any damage, your sense of hearing can alert you to it. If your engine is knocking or you have an exhaust leak, for example.
- Your vehicle will often make audible sounds and alerts in order to make you aware of something (turn signals or unbuckled seat belts, for instance).
By using all of these audio cues, you will be building stronger situational awareness. You could begin to miss more and more of these audio cues as your hearing loss advances. But you can take some positive steps to keep your driving as safe as possible.
Practicing new safe driving habits
If you’re dealing with hearing loss and you want to continue to drive, that’s okay! Here are some ways you can be certain to stay safe when out on the road:
- 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 make sure you aren’t neglecting your mirrors. And keep the possible presence of emergency vehicles in mind.
- Keep the noise inside your car to a minimum: Hearing loss is going to make it difficult for your ears to differentiate noises. It will 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 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 away your phone: Well, this is good advice whether you have hearing loss or not. Today, one of the leading reasons for distraction is a cellphone. 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.
- Don’t ignore your instrument panel: Usually, your car will beep or ding when you need to look at your instrument panel for something. So periodically look down to see if any dash lights are on.
How to keep your hearing aid driving ready
Driving is one of those activities that, if you are dealing with hearing loss, a hearing aid can really be helpful. And there are several ways you can be certain your hearing aid is a real advantage when you’re driving:
- Keep your hearing aids clean, charged, and updated: When you’re half way to the store, the last thing you need is for your battery to quit. That can distract you and could even lead to a dangerous situation. So make sure everything is in good working order and the batteries are charged.
- Use your hearing aid every time you drive: It won’t help you if you don’t wear it! So make certain you’re using your hearing aids every time you drive. This will also help your brain get used to the signals your hearing aid sends your way.
- Have us program a driving setting for you: We can program a car setting into your hearing aid if you do a lot of driving. The size of the interior of your vehicle and the fact that your passengers will be speaking to you from the side or rear will be the factors we will use to fine tune this “car setting” for smoother safer driving.
Plenty of individuals with hearing loss continue to drive and hearing aids make the process easier and safer. Developing safer driving habits can help guarantee that your drive is enjoyable and that your eyes stay safely on the road.