Keep your eyes on the road. Obviously, it’s good advice, but it doesn’t speak to your other senses. For example, consider the amount of work your ears are doing when you’re driving. You’re using your ears to connect with other individuals in your vehicle, alert you to important information appearing on your dashboard, and help you keep track of other vehicles.
So the way you drive can change if you’re experiencing hearing impairment. That’s not to say your driving will become prohibitively dangerous. With regards to safety, inexperience and distracted driving are much bigger liabilities. Nevertheless, some specific precautions should be taken by people 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 stay safe while driving.
How your driving might be impacted by hearing loss
Vision is the main sense used when driving. Even if you have total hearing loss, your driving could change but you will still probably be able to drive. After all, you use your hearing a great deal while you’re driving. Some typical examples include:
- Your sense of hearing can help you have a better sense of other vehicles near you. For instance, you will usually be able to hear a large truck coming toward you.
- Your hearing will usually alert you when your car has some kind of malfunction. If your engine is rapping or you have an exhaust leak, for instance.
- Your vehicle will often make audible sounds and alerts in order to alert you to something (turn signals or unbuckled seat belts, for instance).
- You can often hear emergency vehicles before you can see them.
- Other drivers will often honk their horns to make you aware of their presence. For instance, if you start drifting into another lane or you don’t go at a green light, a horn can make you aware of your mistake before bad things happen.
All of these audio cues can help build your total situational awareness. You could begin to miss more and more of these audio cues as your hearing loss progresses. But there are measures you can take to ensure you still remain as safe as you can while driving.
Developing new safe driving habits
It’s fine 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 smart advice. One of the leading reasons for distracted driving, nowadays, is cellphones. 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, when you need to pay attention to your instrument panel, your vehicle will beep or make some other sound. So periodically look down to see if any dash lights are on.
- Pay extra attention to your mirrors: Even with sirens blaring, you may not hear that ambulance coming up behind you. So make sure you aren’t neglecting your mirrors. And generally try to keep an elevated awareness for emergency vehicles.
- Keep the noise inside your car to a minimum: It will be hard for your ears to distinguish sounds when you’re going through hearing loss. When the wind is blowing and your passenger is speaking, it might become easy for your ears to get overwhelmed, which can cause you to become distracted and tired. So when you’re driving, it’s a smart idea to decrease the volume on your radio, keep conversation to a minimum, and roll up your windows.
Keeping your hearing aid road ready
Driving is one of those tasks that, if you are dealing with hearing loss, 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:
- Have us dial in a driving setting for you: If you anticipate doing a fair amount 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 talking to you from the side or rear will be the factors we will use to fine tune this “car setting” for smoother safer driving.
- Get the most recent updates and keep your hearing aid clean and charged: When you’re half way to the store, the last thing you need is for your battery to die. That can distract you and could even create a dangerous situation. So make certain everything is working properly and the batteries are charged.
- Every time you drive, use your hearing aid: If you don’t wear it, it can’t help! So make 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 signals.
Lots of people with hearing loss keep driving and hearing aids make the process safer and easier. Your drive will be pleasant and your eyes will remain focused on the road if you establish safe driving habits.