Keep your eyes on the road. Of course, it’s good advice, but it doesn’t speak to your other senses. Your ears, for example, 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 passengers in your vehicle.
So when you’re coping with hearing impairment, how you drive can change. That’s not to say your driving will come to be excessively dangerous. Distracted driving and inexperience are greater liabilities in terms of safety. Nevertheless, some specific safeguards need to be taken by people with hearing loss to ensure they continue driving as safely as possible.
Establishing good driving habits can go a long way to help you remain a safe driver even if hearing impairment might be affecting your situational awareness.
How hearing loss may be impacting your driving
Vision is the main sense used when driving. Even complete hearing loss most likely won’t stop you from driving, but it very likely may change how you drive. While driving you do use your hearing a great deal, after all. Some prevalent examples include:
- Emergency vehicles can often be heard before they can be seen.
- Your vehicle will often make audible noises and alerts in order to alert you to something (turn signals or unbuckled seat belts, for example).
- Your sense of hearing can help you have better awareness of other vehicles around you. For instance, you will normally be able to hear a large truck coming your way.
- 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.
- Other drivers will often use their horns to make you aware of their presence. For instance, if you start drifting into another lane or you remain stopped at a green light, a horn can make you aware of your mistake before bad things happen.
By utilizing all of these audio cues, you will be developing stronger 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 possible while driving.
New safe driving habits to develop
If you’re dealing with hearing loss and you want to keep driving, that’s okay! Here are a few ways you can be certain to stay safe while 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 make sure you aren’t neglecting your mirrors. And keep the possible presence of emergency vehicles in mind.
- Put away your phone: Even if your hearing is good, this one is still smart advice. Phones are among the highest causes of distraction on the road these days. And that goes double when you attempt to use them with hearing loss. Keeping your phone stashed can, simply, keep you safer–and save your life.
- Don’t disregard your dash lights: Typically, your car will beep or ding when you need to look at your instrument panel for something. So regularly look down to see if any dash lights are on.
- Keep the noise inside your car to a minimum: Hearing loss is going to make it hard for your ears to separate sounds. When the wind is howling and your passengers are talking, it might become easy for your ears to grow overwhelmed, which can cause you to become distracted and tired. So when you’re driving, it’s a smart idea to decrease the volume on your radio, keep conversation to a minimum, and put up your windows.
Keeping your hearing aid ready for the road
Driving is one of those tasks that, if you are dealing with hearing loss, a hearing aid can really be helpful. And there are several ways you can be certain your hearing aid is a real asset when you’re driving:
- Wear your hearing aid each time you drive: If you don’t wear it, it won’t help! So each time you drive, make certain you’re wearing your hearing aids. By doing this, your brain will have an easier time acclimating to the incoming sounds.
- Get the most recent updates and keep your hearing aid clean and charged: When you’re on your way to the store, the last thing you need 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.
- Ask us for a “driving” setting: If you anticipate doing a lot 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 speaking to you from the side or rear will be the factors we will use to optimize this “car setting” for easier safer driving.
Hearing loss doesn’t mean driving is an issue, especially with hearing aids which make it easier and safer. Establishing safer driving habits can help ensure that your drive is enjoyable and that your eyes stay safely on the road.