Don’t take your eyes off the road. While this may be sound advice, what about your other senses? Your ears, for instance, are doing a lot of work while you’re driving, helping you monitor other vehicles, alerting you to info on your dashboard, and keeping you connected with the other individuals in your vehicle.
So when you’re coping with hearing loss, the way you drive can vary. That’s not to say your driving will come to be excessively dangerous. Distracted driving and inexperience are bigger liabilities when it comes to safety. That being said, those with diminished hearing need to take some specific safeguards to stay as safe as possible.
Establishing good driving habits can go a long way to help you remain a safe driver even if hearing loss might be affecting your situational awareness.
How your driving could be impacted by hearing loss
Vision is the main sense utilized when driving. Even if you have total hearing loss, your driving could change but you will still probably be able to drive. While driving you do utilize your hearing a lot, after all. Here are some prevalent examples:
- You can usually hear emergency vehicles before you see them.
- Even though many vehicles are designed to decrease road noise, your sense of hearing can add to your awareness of other vehicles. You will usually be able to hear an oncoming truck, for example.
- Other drivers will often use 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 clue you in to your error before dangerous things happen.
- If has any damage, your sense of hearing can let you know. For instance, if you run over something in the road or a rock hits your windshield.
- Audible alerts will sound when your car is attempting to alert you to something, such as an unbuckled seat belt or an open door.
By utilizing all of these audio cues, you will be developing stronger situational awareness. As your hearing loss gets worse, you may miss more and more of these cues. But there are measures you can take to ensure you stay as safe as possible while driving.
New safe driving habits to develop
If you’re experiencing hearing loss and you want to keep driving, that’s okay! Here are some ways you can be certain to stay safe while driving:
- 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.
- Put away your phone: Even if your hearing is good, this one is still smart advice. Today, one of the leading causes of distraction is a cellphone. And that doubles when you attempt to use them when you have hearing loss. You will simply be safer when you put away your phone and it could save your life.
- Don’t ignore your instrument panel: Typically, when you need to pay 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 difficult for your ears to distinguish noises when you have hearing loss. When the wind is howling and your passenger is talking, it might become easy for your ears to get overstimulated, which can cause fatigue and distraction. So when you’re driving, it’s a good idea to reduce the volume on your radio, keep conversation to a minimum, and roll up your windows.
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 be helpful. And when you’re driving, utilize these tips to make your hearing aids a real asset:
- Every time you drive, wear your hearing aid: It won’t help you if you don’t wear it! So make certain you’re wearing your hearing aids every time you drive. This will also help your brain get used to the signals your hearing aid sends your way.
- Get the most recent updates and keep your hearing aid clean and charged: You don’t want your hearing aid batteries to die right in the middle of a drive to the store. That can distract you and may even create a dangerous situation. So be sure everything is in good working order and the batteries are charged.
- Ask us for a “driving” setting: 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 passenger is to your side and not in front of you), making your drive smoother and more enjoyable.
Plenty 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 stay focused on the road if you develop safe driving habits.