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 example, are doing a ton of work when you’re driving, helping you track other vehicles, calling your attention to info on your dashboard, and keeping you engaged with the other individuals in your vehicle.
So how you drive can change if you’re going through hearing impairment. That’s not to say your driving will come to be prohibitively dangerous. With regards to safety, inexperience and distracted driving are much greater liabilities. Still, some special precautions 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 formulating safe driving habits can help you stay safe while driving.
How hearing loss may be affecting your driving
Generally, driving is a vision-centric activity (at least, if it’s not a vision-centric activity, something has gone wrong). Even if you have total hearing loss, your driving may change but you will still probably be able to drive. After all, you use your hearing quite a bit while you’re driving. Here are some prevalent examples:
- Your hearing will often alert you when your car is damaged in some way. If your motor is knocking or you have an exhaust leak, for instance.
- Emergency vehicles can often be heard before they can be seen.
- Your vehicle will often make audible sounds and alerts in order to alert you to something (turn signals or unbuckled seat belts, for instance).
- Your sense of hearing can help you have a better sense of other vehicles around you. For example, you will normally be able to hear a large truck coming your way.
- If another motorist needs to make you aware of their presence, they will often use their horn. If you fail to notice the light turn to green, for instance, or you start to wander into the other lane, a horn can alert you before it becomes an issue.
All of these audio cues can help develop your overall situational awareness. As your hearing loss gets worse, you might be missing more and more of these cues. But you can practice some positive measures to keep your driving as safe as possible.
New safe driving habits to develop
If you’re dealing with hearing loss and you want to keep driving, that’s okay! Stay safe out on the road with these tips:
- Keep the noise inside your car to a minimum: Hearing loss is going to make it difficult for your ears to differentiate sounds. When the wind is howling and your passenger is talking, it might become easy for your ears to grow overwhelmed, which can cause fatigue and distraction. So when you’re driving, it’s a smart idea to reduce the volume on your radio, keep discussions to a minimum, and put up your windows.
- Keep your phone out of reach: Well, this is wise advice whether you suffer from hearing loss or not. Phones are among the highest causes of distraction on the road today. And with hearing loss that distraction is at least doubled. You will simply be safer when you put away your phone and it could save your life.
- Don’t neglect your dash lights: Typically, when you need to give attention to your instrument panel, your vehicle will ding or make some other sound. So regularly look 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 be vigilant about checking your mirrors. And keep the possible presence of emergency vehicles in mind.
How to keep your hearing aid driving ready
Driving is one of those tasks that, if you have hearing loss, a hearing aid can really help. And when you’re driving, use these tips to make your hearing aids a real asset:
- Get the most recent updates and keep your hearing aid charged and clean: You don’t want your hearing aid batteries to die right when you’re driving to the store. That can distract you and could even lead to a dangerous situation. So make sure everything is in good working order and the batteries are charged.
- Have us program a driving setting for you: If you intend to do a fair amount of driving, you can ask us to program a “car” setting on your hearing aid. 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 fine tune this “car setting” for smoother safer driving.
- Use your hearing aid each time you drive: If you don’t wear it, it won’t help! So be sure you’re using your hearing aids each time you get behind the wheel. By doing this, your brain will have an easier time getting used to the incoming sounds.
Plenty of people with hearing loss keep driving and hearing aids make the process easier and safer. Establishing safer driving habits can help ensure that your drive is pleasant and that your eyes remain safely on the road.