Don’t take your eyes off the road. Naturally, it’s good advice, but it doesn’t say much about your other senses. As an example, consider 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 coming up on your dashboard, and help you monitor other vehicles.
So how you drive can change if you’re experiencing hearing loss. That doesn’t automatically mean you will need to quit driving because you’ve become overly dangerous. Distracted driving and inexperience are greater liabilities in terms of safety. Nevertheless, some special safeguards should be taken by people with hearing loss to ensure they continue driving as safely as possible.
Hearing loss can affect your situational awareness but acquiring safe driving habits can help you stay safe while driving.
How your driving might be effected by hearing loss
In general, driving is a vision-centric activity (at least, if it’s not a vision-centric activity, something’s wrong). Even complete hearing loss probably 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 typical examples:
- If another motorist needs to make you aware of their presence, they will usually use their horn. If you fail to notice the light turn to green, for instance, or you begin to drift into the other lane, a horn can get your attention before it becomes a problem.
- Audible alerts will sound when your vehicle is trying to alert you to something, like an unbuckled seat belt or an open door.
- Even though many vehicles are engineered to decrease 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 usually be heard before they can be seen.
- If there is any damage to your vehicle, 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.
By utilizing all of these audio cues, you will be developing better situational awareness. As your hearing loss advances, you may miss 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.
New safe driving habits to develop
If you’re experiencing hearing loss and you want to keep driving, that’s fine! Here are some ways you can be certain to remain safe while driving:
- Keep interior noise to a minimum: Hearing loss will make it difficult for your ears to differentiate sounds. When the wind is howling and your passengers are speaking, it might become easy for your ears to grow overwhelmed, which can cause fatigue and distraction. So put up your window, turn down the volume, and keep the talking to a minimum when driving.
- 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 your phone away: 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 that goes double when you attempt to use them when you have hearing loss. Keeping your phone stowed can, simply, keep you and other people safer–and save your life.
- Keep an eye on your dash lights.: Normally, your car will ding or beep when you need to look at your instrument panel for something. So regularly glance down to see if any dash lights are on.
How to keep your hearing aid driving ready
If you have hearing loss, driving is one of those instances where wearing a hearing aid can really help. And there are a few ways you can make sure your hearing aid is a real asset when you’re driving:
- Get the most recent updates and keep your hearing aid charged and clean: You don’t want your hearing aid batteries to quit right when you’re driving to the store. That can distract you and may even bring about a dangerous situation. So keep your batteries charged and make sure everything’s working properly.
- 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 calibrated for the interior space and configuration of your vehicle (where, normally, your conversation partner is beside and not in front of you), making your drive easier and more pleasant.
- Every time you drive, wear your hearing aid: If you don’t use it, it can’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 signals.
Plenty of people with hearing loss keep driving and hearing aids make the process easier and safer. Developing safer driving habits can help guarantee that your drive is enjoyable and that your eyes stay safely on the road.