Keep your eyes on the road. Of course, it’s good advice, but it doesn’t say much about your other senses. Your ears, for instance, are doing a ton of work when you’re driving, helping you track other vehicles, calling your attention to information on your dashboard, and keeping you connected with the other people in your vehicle.
So when you experience hearing loss, how you drive can vary. That doesn’t inevitably mean you will need to stop driving because you’ve become overly dangerous. Distracted driving and inexperience are bigger liabilities in terms of safety. Nevertheless, some special precautions should be taken by individuals with hearing loss to ensure they keep 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 influencing your situational awareness.
How your driving could be impacted by hearing loss
Vision is the principal sense used when driving. Even if you have complete hearing loss, your driving could change but you will still likely be able to drive. While driving you do utilize your hearing a great deal, after all. Some prevalent examples include:
- Audible alerts will sound when your vehicle is trying to alert you to something, like an unbuckled seat belt or an open door.
- If another motorist needs to make you aware of their presence, they will often beep their horn. If you fail to see the light turn to green, for example, or you begin to wander into the other lane, a horn can get your attention before it becomes an issue.
- Your hearing will usually alert you when your car is damaged in some way. For instance, if you run over an obstruction in the road or a rock hits your windshield.
- Emergency vehicles can usually be heard before they can be seen.
- Your sense of hearing can help you have better awareness of other vehicles near you. You will typically be able to hear an oncoming truck, for example.
By using all of these audio cues, you will be building stronger situational awareness. As your hearing loss advances, you may miss more and more of these cues. But you can take some positive steps to keep your driving as safe as possible.
New safe driving habits to develop
If you’re experiencing hearing loss and you want to continue to drive, that’s fine! Here are some ways you can be certain to stay safe while driving:
- Keep your phone out of reach: 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 goes double when you try to use them when you have hearing loss. You will simply be safer when you put your phone away and it could save your life.
- Keep an eye on your instrument panel: Normally, your car will beep or ding when you need to look at your instrument panel for some reason. So periodically glance down to see if any dash lights are on.
- 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.
- Minimize in-car noises: Hearing loss will make it hard for your ears to separate sounds. When the wind is blowing and your passenger is talking, it might become easy for your ears to grow 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 put up your windows.
How to keep your hearing aid ready for driving
If you are dealing with hearing loss, driving is one of those scenarios where wearing a hearing aid can really come in handy. And when you’re driving, use these tips to make your hearing aids a real advantage:
- Each time you drive, wear your hearing aid: It won’t help you if you don’t wear it! So make certain you’re using your hearing aids every time you drive. By doing this, your brain will have an easier time acclimating to the incoming sounds.
- Have us program a driving setting for you: We can program a car setting into your hearing aid if you drive a lot. The size of the inside of your vehicle and the fact that your passengers will be talking to you from the side or rear will be the variables we will use to optimize this “car setting” for smoother safer 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 be distracting and perhaps even dangerous. So keep your batteries charged and ensure everything’s in working order.
Lots of individuals with hearing loss continue to drive and hearing aids make the process easier and safer. Your drive will be enjoyable and your eyes will stay focused on the road if you establish safe driving habits.