Don’t take your eyes off the road. While this might be sound advice, how about your other senses? Your ears, for instance, are doing a ton of work while you’re driving, helping you monitor other vehicles, calling your attention to info on your dashboard, and keeping you engaged with the other passengers in your vehicle.
So when you’re coping with hearing loss, the way you drive can change. That doesn’t necessarily 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. That said, those with diminished hearing need to take some specific precautions to stay 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 could be effected by hearing loss
Vision is the primary sense utilized when driving. Even if you have complete hearing loss, your driving may change but you will still likely be able to drive. After all, you use your hearing quite a bit while you’re driving. Here are some prevalent examples:
- Your sense of hearing can help you have better awareness of other vehicles around you. For example, you will usually be able to hear a large truck coming your way.
- 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.
- Other drivers will often use their horns to alert you to their presence. If you fail to see the light turn to green, for instance, or you start to drift into the other lane, a horn can get your attention before it becomes a problem.
- Your vehicle will often make audible sounds and alerts in order to alert you to something (turn signals or unbuckled seat belts, for instance).
- Emergency vehicles can usually be heard before they can be seen.
By using all of these audio cues, you will be developing stronger situational awareness. You could start to miss more and more of these audio cues as your hearing loss advances. But there are measures you can take to ensure you stay as safe as possible while driving.
Practicing new safe driving habits
If you’re dealing with hearing loss and you want to keep driving, that’s fine! Here are a few ways you can make sure to remain 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 generally try to keep an elevated awareness for emergency vehicles.
- Put away your phone: Even if your hearing is strong, this one is still good advice. Today, one of the leading causes of 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 your phone away and it could save your life.
- Don’t ignore your dash lights: usually, when you need to give attention to your instrument panel, your vehicle will beep or make some other sound. So you’ll want to be sure to glance down (when it’s safe) and make sure your turn signals aren’t still blinking, or you don’t have a check engine light on.
- Keep interior noise to a minimum: Hearing loss is going to make it hard for your ears to separate 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 in your ears. So put up your window, turn down the volume, and keep the talking to a minimum when driving.
How to keep your hearing aid driving ready
If you suffer from hearing loss, driving is one of those situations where having a hearing aid can really come in handy. And there are several 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 be distracting and perhaps even dangerous. So keep your batteries charged and make sure everything’s in working order.
- Wear your hearing aid every time you drive: It won’t help you if you don’t use it! So each time you drive, make sure you’re wearing your hearing aids. By doing this, your brain will have an easier time acclimating to the incoming sounds.
- Ask us for a “driving” setting: If you anticipate doing a lot of driving, you can ask us to program a “car” setting on your hearing aid. This setting will be adjusted for the inside space and setup of your vehicle (where, usually, your passenger is to your side and not in front of you), making your drive smoother and more enjoyable.
Plenty of individuals with hearing loss continue to drive and hearing aids make the process easier and safer. Establishing good driving habits can help ensure that your drive is enjoyable and that your eyes remain safely on the road.