Keep your eyes on the road. While this may be sound advice, how about your other senses? Your ears, for instance, are doing tons of work while you’re driving, helping you track other vehicles, calling your attention to info on your dashboard, and keeping you engaged with the other people in your vehicle.
So the way you drive can change if you’re going through hearing loss. That doesn’t inevitably mean you will have to stop driving because you’ve become excessively dangerous. Inexperience and distracted driving are larger liabilities when it comes to safety. That said, those with diminished hearing need to take some special precautions to remain as safe as possible.
Developing good driving habits can go a long way to help you remain a safe driver even if hearing impairment may be affecting your situational awareness.
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 may change but you will still probably be able to drive. While driving you do use your hearing a great deal, after all. Here are some typical examples:
- Even though most vehicles are designed to reduce road noise, your sense of hearing can raise your awareness of other vehicles. For instance, you will normally be able to hear a large truck coming toward you.
- Other motorists will commonly honk their horns to alert you to their presence. For example, 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.
- Your hearing will often 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.
- Audible alerts will sound when your vehicle is trying to alert you to something, like an unbuckled seat belt or an open door.
- Emergency vehicles can often be heard before they can be seen.
By using all of these audio cues, you will be building better situational awareness. You could begin to miss more and more of these audio cues as your hearing loss advances. But there are steps you can take to ensure you still remain as safe as possible while driving.
New safe driving habits to develop
It’s no problem if you want to continue driving even after you have hearing loss! Stay safe out on the road with these tips:
- Pay extra attention to your mirrors: 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.
- Put away your phone: Even if your hearing is strong, this one is still smart advice. Phones are among the leading causes of distraction on the road today. And when you have hearing loss that distraction is at least doubled. You will simply be safer when you put your phone away and it could save your life.
- Don’t ignore your dash lights: Typically, your car will beep or ding when you need to look at your instrument panel for some reason. So you’ll want to be sure to glance down (when it’s safe) and make sure your turn signals aren’t still on, or your check engine light isn’t on.
- Keep the noise inside your car to a minimum: Hearing loss will make it hard for your ears to differentiate sounds. When the wind is howling and your passengers are speaking, it could become easy for your ears to grow overstimulated, which can cause fatigue and distraction. So when you’re driving, it’s a smart idea to lower the volume on your radio, keep conversation to a minimum, and put up your windows.
Keeping your hearing aid road ready
If you have hearing loss, driving is one of those situations where wearing 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:
- Each time you drive, wear your hearing aid: If you don’t use it, it won’t help! So make certain you’re wearing your hearing aids every time you drive. This will also help your brain acclimate to the sounds your hearing aid sends into your ears.
- Keep your hearing aids clean, charged, and updated: You don’t want your hearing aid batteries to quit right in the middle of a drive to the store. That can distract you and may even lead to a dangerous situation. So keep your batteries charged and ensure everything’s working properly.
- Have us program a driving setting for you: If you intend to do a lot of driving, you can ask us to program 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 easier and more enjoyable.
Plenty of people with hearing loss keep driving and hearing aids make the process safer and easier. Establishing safer driving habits can help ensure that your drive is pleasant and that your eyes stay safely on the road.