Keep your eyes on the road. Of course, it’s good advice, but it doesn’t speak to your other senses. Your ears, for instance, are doing tons of work while you’re driving, helping you monitor other vehicles, calling your attention to info on your dashboard, and keeping you engaged with the other passengers in your vehicle.
So the way you drive can change if you’re going through hearing loss. That’s not to say your driving will become excessively dangerous. When it comes to safety, inexperience and distracted driving are far bigger liabilities. Still, some special precautions should be taken by individuals with hearing loss to ensure they keep driving as safely as possible.
Hearing loss can impact your situational awareness but formulating good driving habits can help you stay safe while driving.
How hearing loss might be impacting your driving
Vision is the main 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 use your hearing a lot, after all. Here are some typical examples:
- You can often hear emergency vehicles before you can see them.
- Other drivers will commonly use their horns to make you aware of their presence. If you fail to see the light turn to green, for example, or you start to wander into the other lane, a horn can alert you before it becomes an issue.
- Audible alerts will sound when your vehicle is attempting to alert you to something, such as an unbuckled seat belt or an open door.
- Your hearing will usually alert you when your car has some kind of malfunction. If your engine is rapping or you have an exhaust leak, for instance.
- Your sense of hearing can help you have better awareness of other vehicles around you. You will typically be able to hear an oncoming truck, for instance.
All of these audio cues can help build your overall situational awareness. As your hearing loss advances, you might be missing more and more of these cues. But there are steps you can take to ensure you stay as safe as you can while driving.
New safe driving habits to develop
It’s fine if you want to continue driving even after you have hearing loss! Here are a few ways you can make sure to stay safe when out on the road:
- Keep your phone out of reach: 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 with hearing loss that distraction is at least twice as much. You will simply be safer when you put your phone away and it could save your life.
- Keep an eye on your instrument panel: usually, 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 confirm your turn signals aren’t still on, or your check engine light isn’t on.
- Minimize in-car noises: Hearing loss will make it difficult for your ears to separate sounds. When the wind is blowing and your passengers are talking, 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 reduce the volume on your radio, keep conversation to a minimum, and roll up your windows.
- 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.
How to keep your hearing aid driving ready
If you suffer from hearing loss, driving is one of those scenarios where having a hearing aid can really come in handy. And when you’re driving, utilize these tips to make your hearing aids a real asset:
- Wear your hearing aid every time you drive: If you don’t wear it, it can’t help! So make sure you’re wearing your hearing aids each time you get behind the wheel. This will also help your brain get used to the signals your hearing aid sends your way.
- Have us dial in a driving setting for you: We can program a car setting into your hearing aid if you drive a lot. The size of the interior of your vehicle and the fact that your passengers will be speaking to you from the side or rear will be the variables we will use to fine tune this “car setting” for easier safer driving.
- Keep your hearing aids clean, updated, and charged: When you’re on your way to the store, the last thing you need is for your battery to die. That can distract you and may even create a dangerous situation. So keep your batteries charged and ensure everything’s in working order.
Plenty of people with hearing loss keep driving and hearing aids make the process safer and easier. Establishing good driving habits can help guarantee that your drive is enjoyable and that your eyes stay safely on the road.