Don’t take your eyes off the road. Of course, it’s good advice, but it doesn’t speak to 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 people in your vehicle, alert you to important information appearing on your dashboard, and help you monitor other vehicles.
So the way you drive can change if you’re experiencing hearing impairment. That’s not to say your driving will become excessively dangerous. Distracted driving and inexperience are bigger liabilities when it comes to safety. Still, some special safeguards need to be taken by individuals 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 may be effected by hearing loss
Vision is the primary sense utilized when driving. Even if you have complete hearing loss, your driving could change but you will still likely be able to drive. After all, you use your hearing quite a bit while you’re driving. Here are some prevalent examples:
- Even though most vehicles are engineered to reduce road noise, your sense of hearing can add to your awareness of other vehicles. For example, you will usually be able to hear a large truck coming toward you.
- You can usually hear emergency vehicles before you see them.
- If another motorist needs to make you aware of their presence, they will often use their horn. For instance, if you begin to drift into another lane or you remain stopped at a green light, a horn can make you aware of your error before dangerous things happen.
- Your vehicle will often make audible noises and alerts in order to alert you to something (turn signals or unbuckled seat belts, for instance).
- Your hearing will usually alert you when your car is damaged in some way. If your engine is knocking or you have an exhaust leak, for example.
By utilizing all of these audio cues, you will be building stronger situational awareness. As your hearing loss progresses, 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.
Practicing new safe driving habits
If you’re dealing with hearing loss and you want to continue to drive, that’s fine! Here are some ways you can be certain to stay safe when out on the road:
- Put away your phone: Well, this is good advice whether you have hearing loss or not. Phones are among the highest causes of distraction on the road today. And with hearing loss that distraction is at least twice as much. You will simply be safer when you put away your phone and it could save your life.
- Keep an eye on your dash lights.: Typically, 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.
- 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 keep the possible presence of emergency vehicles in mind.
- Keep the noise inside your car to a minimum: It will be difficult for your ears to isolate sounds when you’re going through hearing loss. When the wind is howling and your passenger is talking, it might become easy for your ears to grow overwhelmed, which can cause you to become distracted and tired. So roll up your window, turn down the music, and keep conversations to a minimum when driving.
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 help. And there are a few ways you can be certain your hearing aid is a real asset when you’re driving:
- Keep your hearing aids clean, updated, and charged: When you’re on your way to the store, the last thing you need is for your battery to quit. That can distract you and may even bring about a dangerous situation. So keep your batteries charged and ensure everything’s in working order.
- Ask us for a “driving” setting: If you anticipate doing a lot of driving, you can ask us to give you a “car” setting on your hearing aid. This setting will be calibrated for the inside space and setup of your vehicle (where, normally, your passenger is to your side and not in front of you), making your drive smoother and more pleasant.
- Wear your hearing aid each time you drive: It’s not going to help you if you don’t use it! So each time you drive, make certain you’re wearing your hearing aids. This will also help your brain acclimate to the sounds your hearing aid sends your way.
Hearing loss doesn’t mean driving is a problem, particularly with hearing aids which make it easier and safer. Establishing good driving habits can help guarantee that your drive is enjoyable and that your eyes stay safely on the road.