Keep your eyes on the road. Of course, it’s good advice, but it doesn’t speak to your other senses. Your ears, for instance, are doing a lot of work while you’re driving, helping you monitor other vehicles, alerting you 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 experiencing hearing loss. That doesn’t inevitably mean you will have to quit driving because you’ve become overly dangerous. Distracted driving and inexperience are bigger liabilities in terms of safety. Still, some special safeguards should be taken by individuals with hearing loss to ensure they continue driving as safely as possible.
Hearing loss can impact your situational awareness but acquiring safe driving habits can help you remain a safe driver.
How your driving may be impacted by hearing loss
Vision is the main sense utilized when driving. Even complete hearing loss most likely won’t keep you from driving, but it very likely might change the way you drive. While driving you do utilize your hearing a great deal, after all. Some prevalent examples include:
- Even though many 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.
- Emergency vehicles can often be heard before they can be seen.
- If has any damage, your sense of hearing can alert you to it. For instance, if you run over something in the road or a rock hits your windshield.
- Audible alerts will sound when your vehicle is attempting to alert you to something, such as an unbuckled seat belt or an open door.
- Other drivers will often use their horns to make you aware of 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.
By using all of these audio cues, you will be developing better situational awareness. You could begin to miss more and more of these audio cues as your hearing loss advances. 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
If you’re experiencing hearing loss and you want to continue to drive, that’s fine! Stay safe out on the road using these tips:
- 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 generally try to keep an elevated awareness for emergency vehicles.
- Put away your phone: Even if your hearing is good, this one is still good advice. One of the leading reasons for distracted driving, nowadays, is cellphones. And with hearing loss that distraction is at least twice as much. Keeping your phone stashed can, simply, keep you safer–and save your life.
- Don’t ignore your dash lights: Normally, when you need to pay attention to your instrument panel, your vehicle will beep or make some other sound. So you’ll want to make sure you glance down (when it’s safe) and confirm your turn signals aren’t still on, or your check engine light isn’t on.
- Minimize in-car noises: It will be challenging for your ears to distinguish sounds when you have hearing loss. When the wind is howling and your passenger is speaking, it could become easy for your ears to get overwhelmed, which can cause you to become distracted and tired. So put up your window, turn down the volume, and keep conversations to a minimum while driving.
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 a few ways you can make sure your hearing aid is a real asset when you’re driving:
- Every time you drive, use your hearing aid: If you don’t wear it, it can’t help! So be sure you’re using your hearing aids each time you drive. By doing this, your brain will have an easier time acclimating to the incoming sounds.
- Ask us for a “driving” setting: If you intend to do a lot 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 speaking to you from the side or rear will be the factors we will use to optimize this “car setting” for smoother safer driving.
- Get the most recent updates and keep your hearing aid clean and charged: You don’t want your hearing aid batteries to die right when you’re driving to the store. That can be distracting and maybe even dangerous. So be sure everything is in good working order and the batteries are charged.
Plenty of individuals with hearing loss continue to drive and hearing aids make the process safer and easier. Developing good driving habits can help ensure that your drive is pleasant and that your eyes remain safely on the road.