Keep your eyes on the road. While this may be sound advice, what about your other senses? Your ears, for example, are doing a lot of work when you’re driving, helping you keep track of other vehicles, calling your attention to information on your dashboard, and keeping you engaged with the other passengers in your vehicle.
So the way you drive can change if you’re going through hearing impairment. That’s not to say your driving will become prohibitively dangerous. Distracted driving and inexperience are larger liabilities in terms of safety. Still, some specific 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 drive safely 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 keep you from driving, but it very likely could change the way you drive. After all, you use your hearing a great deal while you’re driving. Here are some prevalent examples:
- 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).
- Your sense of hearing can help you have better awareness of other vehicles near you. For instance, you will usually be able to hear a large truck coming toward you.
- If another motorist 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 instance, or you begin to drift into the other lane, a horn can alert you before it becomes a problem.
- You can usually hear emergency vehicles before you see them.
- Your hearing will often alert you when your car has some kind of malfunction. For example, if you run over an obstruction in the road or a rock hits your windshield.
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 there are measures you can take to ensure you still remain as safe as you can while driving.
Developing new safe driving habits
If you’re dealing with hearing loss and you want to keep driving, that’s fine! Stay safe out on the road using these tips:
- Put away your phone: Well, this is good advice whether you have hearing loss or not. Phones are among the leading causes of distraction on the road today. And with 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.
- Keep an eye on 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.
- 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 difficult for your ears to isolate noises when you have hearing loss. It could be easy for your ears to become overwhelmed and for you to get distracted if you have passengers loudly speaking and music playing and wind in your ears. So when you’re driving, it’s a good idea to reduce the volume on your radio, keep conversation to a minimum, and roll up your windows.
How to keep your hearing aid driving ready
Driving is one of those tasks that, if you have hearing loss, a hearing aid can really be helpful. And when you’re driving, utilize these tips to make your hearing aids a real asset:
- Get the most recent updates and keep your hearing aid clean and charged: When you’re on your way to the store, the last thing you want is for your battery to quit. That can distract you and may even lead to a dangerous situation. 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 drive a lot. This setting will be adjusted for the inside space and setup of your vehicle (where, normally, your conversation partner is to your side and not in front of you), making your drive easier and more enjoyable.
- Each time you drive, wear your hearing aid: If you don’t wear it, it won’t help! So each time you drive, make certain you’re wearing your hearing aids. By doing this, your brain will have an easier time getting used to the incoming sounds.
Lots of people with hearing loss continue to drive and hearing aids make the process easier and safer. Your drive will be pleasant and your eyes will remain focused on the road if you develop safe driving habits.