Keep your eyes on the road. Of course, it’s good advice, but it doesn’t speak to your other senses. Your ears, for example, are doing tons of work when you’re driving, helping you monitor other vehicles, alerting you to info on your dashboard, and keeping you connected with the other passengers in your vehicle.
So the way you drive can change if you’re experiencing hearing impairment. That doesn’t inevitably mean you will need to stop driving because you’ve become excessively dangerous. Distracted driving and inexperience are larger liabilities in terms of safety. Nevertheless, some specific safeguards need to be taken by people with hearing loss to ensure they continue driving as safely as possible.
Developing good driving habits can go a long way to help you drive safely even if hearing impairment may be affecting your situational awareness.
How your driving could be impacted by hearing loss
Vision is the principal sense utilized 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. Here are some prevalent examples:
- If has any damage, your sense of hearing can alert you to it. If your motor is rapping or you have an exhaust leak, for example.
- 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 can see them.
- Your vehicle will often make audible noises and alerts in order to make you aware of something (turn signals or unbuckled seat belts, for instance).
- Other motorists will commonly honk their horns to make you aware of their presence. If you fail to see the light turn to green, for instance, or you start to drift into the other lane, a horn can get your attention before it becomes a problem.
All of these audio cues can help build your overall situational awareness. As your hearing loss progresses, you may miss more and more of these cues. But you can take some positive measures to keep your driving as safe as possible.
New safe driving habits to develop
It’s fine if you want to continue driving even after you have hearing loss! Stay safe out on the road with these tips:
- Put your phone away: Even if your hearing is strong, this one is still good advice. One of the leading causes of distracted driving, nowadays, is cellphones. And when you have 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, 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.
- Check your mirrors more often: Even with sirens blaring, you may not hear that ambulance coming up behind you. So be vigilant about checking your mirrors. And generally try to keep an elevated awareness for emergency vehicles.
- Minimize in-car noises: Hearing loss is going to make it difficult for your ears to differentiate sounds. It could be easy for your ears to become overstimulated and for you to get distracted if you have passengers loudly speaking and music playing and wind blowing in your ears. So roll up your window, turn down the volume, and keep the talking to a minimum when driving.
Keeping your hearing aid road ready
Driving is one of those activities that, if you are dealing with hearing loss, a hearing aid can really be helpful. And when you’re driving, utilize these tips to make your hearing aids a real asset:
- Ask us for a “driving” setting: We can program a car setting into your hearing aid if you do a lot of driving. 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 variables we will use to optimize this “car setting” for easier safer driving.
- Each time you drive, use your hearing aid: It won’t help you if you don’t wear it! So make sure you’re wearing your hearing aids every time you get behind the wheel. By doing this, your brain will have an easier time acclimating to the incoming signals.
- Keep your hearing aids clean, charged, and updated: When you’re half way to the store, the last thing you need is for your battery to die. That can be distracting and possibly even dangerous. So keep your batteries charged and make sure everything’s working properly.
Plenty of people with hearing loss continue to drive and hearing aids make the process easier and safer. Developing safer driving habits can help ensure that your drive is enjoyable and that your eyes remain safely on the road.