Keep your eyes on the road. Obviously, it’s good advice, but it doesn’t speak to your other senses. Your ears, for example, are doing a ton of work when you’re driving, helping you keep track of other vehicles, alerting you to information on your dashboard, and keeping you connected with the other people in your vehicle.
So when you experience hearing loss, the way you drive can change. That doesn’t automatically mean you will have to quit driving because you’ve become excessively dangerous. With regards to safety, inexperience and distracted driving are far bigger liabilities. Still, some special precautions need to be taken by individuals with hearing loss to ensure they keep driving as safely as possible.
Developing good driving habits can go a long way to help you remain a safe driver even if hearing impairment may be influencing your situational awareness.
How hearing loss might be impacting your driving
Vision is the primary sense utilized when driving. Even if you have total hearing loss, your driving may change but you will still probably be able to drive. While driving you do use your hearing a great deal, after all. Here are some prevalent examples:
- Audible alerts will sound when your car is attempting to alert you to something, like an unbuckled seat belt or an open door.
- If has any damage, your sense of hearing can let you know. If your engine is knocking or you have an exhaust leak, for instance.
- Even though many vehicles are engineered to reduce road noise, your sense of hearing can raise your awareness of other vehicles. For example, you will usually be able to hear a large truck coming your way.
- You can often hear emergency vehicles before you see them.
- Other drivers will commonly use their horns to alert you to their presence. If you fail to notice the light turn to green, for instance, or you begin to wander into the other lane, a horn can alert you before it becomes a problem.
By utilizing all of these audio cues, you will be building better situational awareness. You may 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.
Developing new safe driving habits
It’s no problem if you want to continue driving even after developing hearing loss! Stay safe out on the road using these tips:
- Keep your phone stowed: Even if your hearing is strong, this one is still good advice. Today, one of the leading reasons for distraction is a cellphone. And with hearing loss that distraction is at least doubled. Keeping your phone stashed can, simply, keep you safer–and save your life.
- Don’t disregard your dash lights: Typically, your car will ding or beep when you need to look at your instrument panel for some reason. So regularly look down to see if any dash lights are on.
- Minimize in-car noises: It will be challenging for your ears to distinguish noises when you’re going through hearing loss. It could be easy for your ears to become overstimulated and for you to get distracted if you have passengers loudly talking and music playing and wind in your ears. So when you’re driving, it’s a smart idea to decrease 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 generally try to keep an elevated awareness for emergency vehicles.
Keeping your hearing aid ready for the road
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 make sure your hearing aid is a real advantage when you’re driving:
- 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. This setting will be adjusted for the inside space and configuration of your vehicle (where, normally, your passenger is beside and not in front of you), making your drive smoother and more enjoyable.
- Keep your hearing aids clean, charged, and updated: You don’t want your hearing aid batteries to die right when you’re driving to the store. That can be distracting and possibly even dangerous. So be sure everything is in good working order and the batteries are charged.
- Wear your hearing aid every time you drive: If you don’t use it, it can’t help! So make certain you’re wearing your hearing aids every time you drive. By doing this, your brain will have an easier time acclimating to the incoming signals.
Hearing loss doesn’t mean driving is a problem, particularly with hearing aids which make it easier and safer. Developing safer driving habits can help guarantee that your drive is enjoyable and that your eyes stay safely on the road.