Don’t take your eyes off the road. Obviously, it’s good advice, but it doesn’t say much about your other senses. Your ears, for instance, 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 how you drive can change if you’re experiencing hearing loss. That’s not to say your driving will become prohibitively dangerous. When it comes to safety, inexperience and distracted driving are much greater liabilities. Nevertheless, some special safeguards should be taken by individuals 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 remain a safe driver.
How hearing loss may be impacting your driving
Vision is the main sense utilized when driving. Even complete hearing loss probably won’t stop 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. Some prevalent examples include:
- Audible alerts will sound when your vehicle is attempting to alert you to something, such as an unbuckled seat belt or an open door.
- Your sense of hearing can help you have a better sense of other vehicles around you. For instance, you will usually be able to hear a large truck coming your way.
- You can often hear emergency vehicles before you see them.
- If another driver needs to make you aware of their presence, they will usually beep their horn. If you fail to see the light turn to green, for instance, or you begin to wander into the other lane, a horn can alert you before it becomes an issue.
- Your hearing will usually alert you when your car is damaged in some way. For example, 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. You could start to miss more and more of these audio cues as your hearing loss progresses. But there are steps you can take to ensure you stay as safe as possible while driving.
Practicing new safe driving habits
If you’re dealing with hearing loss and you want to keep driving, that’s okay! Here are some ways you can make sure to stay safe while driving:
- Pay extra attention to your mirrors: 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 keep the possible presence of emergency vehicles in mind.
- Put your phone away: Well, this is good advice whether you have hearing loss or not. One of the leading causes of distracted driving, nowadays, is cellphones. And that goes double when you try to use them with hearing loss. You will simply be safer when you put away your phone and it could save your life.
- Don’t ignore 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 make sure your turn signals aren’t still on, or you don’t have a check engine light on.
- Keep interior noise to a minimum: It will be challenging for your ears to distinguish sounds when you have hearing loss. When the wind is howling and your passenger is talking, it may become easy for your ears to grow overstimulated, which can cause you to become distracted and tired. So put up your window, turn down the volume, and keep the talking to a minimum while driving.
Keeping your hearing aid ready for the road
If you are dealing with hearing loss, driving is one of those instances where having a hearing aid can really come in handy. And there are several ways you can make sure your hearing aid is a real advantage when you’re driving:
- Keep your hearing aids clean, charged, and updated: When you’re half way to the store, the last thing you want is for your battery to die. That can distract you and may even bring about a dangerous situation. So keep your batteries charged and make sure everything’s working properly.
- Wear your hearing aid each time you drive: If you don’t wear it, it won’t help! So make sure you’re using your hearing aids every time you get behind the wheel. This will also help your brain get used to the sounds your hearing aid sends your way.
- Have us program a driving setting for you: We can program a car setting into your hearing aid if you drive a lot. This setting will be calibrated for the inside space and setup of your vehicle (where, normally, your conversation partner is to your side and not in front of you), making your drive smoother and more enjoyable.
Lots of people with hearing loss continue to drive and hearing aids make the process safer and easier. Your drive will be enjoyable and your eyes will stay focused on the road if you establish safe driving habits.