Keep your eyes on the road. While this may be sound advice, how about your other senses? Your ears, for example, are doing a lot of work when you’re driving, helping you monitor other vehicles, alerting you to information on your dashboard, and keeping you connected with the other individuals in your vehicle.
So the way you drive can change if you’re experiencing hearing impairment. That doesn’t necessarily mean you will need to quit driving because you’ve become excessively dangerous. When it comes to safety, inexperience and distracted driving are much greater liabilities. Nevertheless, some special safeguards should be taken by people with hearing loss to ensure they continue driving as safely as possible.
Hearing loss can impact your situational awareness but formulating good driving habits can help you remain a safe driver.
How your driving may be impacted by hearing loss
Vision is the main sense used when driving. Even if you have complete hearing loss, your driving could change but you will still probably be able to drive. After all, you use your hearing a great deal while you’re driving. Some typical examples include:
- You can usually hear emergency vehicles before you see them.
- Other motorists will often honk their horns to make you aware of their presence. If you fail to see the light turn to green, for example, or you begin to drift into the other lane, a horn can get your attention before it becomes an issue.
- Your vehicle will often make audible sounds and alerts in order to alert you to something (turn signals or unbuckled seat belts, for instance).
- If there is any damage to your vehicle, your sense of hearing can let you know. If your engine is rapping or you have an exhaust leak, for instance.
- Your sense of hearing can help you have a better sense of other vehicles near you. You will usually 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 gets worse, you may miss more and more of these cues. But you can practice 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 keep driving, that’s fine! Stay safe out on the road using these tips:
- Keep the noise inside your car to a minimum: It will be hard for your ears to distinguish sounds when you have hearing loss. It will be easy for your ears to become overwhelmed and for you to get distracted if you have passengers loudly speaking and music playing and wind in your ears. So put up your window, turn down the volume, and keep conversations to a minimum when driving.
- Check your mirrors more often: You may not be able to hear an ambulance pull up behind you–even with all those sirens going. So be vigilant about checking your mirrors. And keep the possible presence of emergency vehicles in mind.
- Keep your phone stowed: Even if your hearing is good, this one is still good advice. Phones are among the highest causes of distraction on the road today. And that doubles when you try to use them when you have hearing loss. Keeping your phone stowed can, simply, keep you safer–and save your life.
- Keep an eye on your dash lights.: usually, when you need to pay attention to your instrument panel, your vehicle will ding or make some other sound. So you’ll want to be sure to 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.
Keeping your hearing aid road ready
If you have hearing loss, driving is one of those situations where wearing a hearing aid can really come in handy. And there are a few ways you can make sure your hearing aid is a real advantage when you’re driving:
- Use your hearing aid each time you drive: If you don’t use it, it can’t help! So each time you drive, make sure you’re wearing your hearing aids. 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 do a lot of driving. This setting will be calibrated for the inside space and setup of your vehicle (where, usually, your passenger is beside and not in front of you), making your drive smoother and more enjoyable.
- Get the most recent updates and keep your hearing aid clean and charged: 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 bring about a dangerous situation. So keep your batteries charged and ensure everything’s working properly.
Lots of individuals with hearing loss continue to drive and hearing aids make the process safer and easier. Your drive will be pleasant and your eyes will remain focused on the road if you develop safe driving habits.