Don’t take your eyes off the road. While this may be sound advice, what about your other senses? As an example, think about how much work your ears are doing when you’re driving. You’re using your ears to connect with other individuals in your vehicle, call your attention to important info 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’s not to say your driving will become prohibitively dangerous. Distracted driving and inexperience are greater liabilities when it comes to safety. That being said, those with decreased hearing should take some specific precautions to stay as safe as possible.
Hearing loss can impact your situational awareness but formulating good driving habits can help you remain a safe driver.
How hearing loss could be impacting your driving
Vision is the principal sense used when driving. Even if you have total hearing loss, your driving could change but you will still probably be able to drive. While driving you do utilize your hearing a lot, after all. Here are some prevalent examples:
- Your hearing will often alert you when your car is damaged in some way. For example, 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, like an unbuckled seat belt or an open door.
- You can often hear emergency vehicles before you can see them.
- Even though most vehicles are designed to decrease road noise, your sense of hearing can add to your awareness of other vehicles. You will usually be able to hear an oncoming truck, for instance.
- If another driver 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.
All of these audio cues can help develop your total situational awareness. As your hearing loss progresses, you may miss more and more of these cues. But you can practice some positive steps to keep your driving as safe as possible.
New safe driving habits to develop
If you’re experiencing hearing loss and you want to keep driving, that’s fine! Stay safe out on the road with these tips:
- Put away your phone: Even if your hearing is strong, this one is still smart advice. One of the leading reasons for distracted driving, nowadays, is cellphones. And when you have 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 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 make sure you glance down (when it’s safe) and confirm your turn signals aren’t still blinking, or you don’t have a check engine light on.
- Minimize in-car noises: Hearing loss is going to make it difficult for your ears to separate noises. When the wind is howling and your passenger is speaking, it could become easy for your ears to get overwhelmed, which can cause fatigue and distraction. So when you’re driving, it’s a good idea to lower the volume on your radio, keep conversation to a minimum, and put up your windows.
- 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.
Keeping your hearing aid road ready
If you suffer from hearing loss, driving is one of those instances where having a hearing aid can really come in handy. And when you’re driving, use these tips to make your hearing aids a real asset:
- Each time you drive, wear your hearing aid: If you don’t wear it, it can’t help! So make sure you’re wearing your hearing aids every 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: When you’re half way to the store, the last thing you need is for your battery to quit. That can be distracting and maybe even dangerous. So make 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 do a lot of driving. This setting will be adjusted for the interior space and configuration of your vehicle (where, usually, your passenger is to your side and not in front of you), making your drive easier and more pleasant.
Hearing loss doesn’t mean driving is a problem, particularly with hearing aids which make it easier and safer. Your drive will be pleasant and your eyes will stay focused on the road if you develop safe driving habits.