Keep your eyes on the road. While this might be sound advice, how about your other senses? Your ears, for example, are doing a lot of work while you’re driving, helping you keep track of other vehicles, alerting you to info on your dashboard, and keeping you engaged with the other individuals in your vehicle.
So the way you drive can change if you’re going through hearing impairment. That doesn’t inevitably mean you will have to stop driving because you’ve become overly dangerous. Distracted driving and inexperience are larger liabilities in terms of safety. Still, some specific precautions need to be taken by people with hearing loss to ensure they keep driving as safely as possible.
Establishing good driving habits can go a long way to help you remain a safe driver even if hearing loss might be influencing your situational awareness.
How your driving may be effected by hearing loss
In general, driving is a vision-centered task (at least, if it’s not a vision-centric activity, something’s wrong). Even complete hearing loss most likely won’t stop you from driving, but it very likely could change how you drive. While driving you do utilize your hearing a lot, after all. Here are some typical examples:
- You can usually hear emergency vehicles before you can see them.
- If there is any damage to your vehicle, your sense of hearing can let you know. For instance, if you run over an obstruction in the road or a rock hits your windshield.
- Your vehicle will often make audible sounds and alerts in order to make you aware of something (turn signals or unbuckled seat belts, for example).
- If another driver needs to make you aware of their presence, they will usually beep their horn. For instance, if you start drifting into another lane or you don’t go at a green light, a horn can clue you in to your mistake before dangerous things take place.
- Your sense of hearing can help you have a better sense of other vehicles around you. For example, you will usually be able to hear a large truck coming toward you.
By using all of these audio cues, you will be building better situational awareness. You may start to miss more and more of these audio cues as your hearing loss progresses. 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! Stay safe out on the road with these tips:
- Keep the noise inside your car to a minimum: Hearing loss will make it difficult for your ears to differentiate sounds. When the wind is howling and your passengers are talking, it could become easy for your ears to grow overwhelmed, which can cause you to become distracted and tired. So put up your window, turn down the volume, and keep the talking to a minimum when driving.
- 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 doubles when you attempt to use them when you have hearing loss. You will simply be safer when you put away your phone and it could save your life.
- Keep an eye on your dash lights.: Typically, your car will ding or beep when you need to look at your instrument panel for something. So regularly glance down to see if any dash lights are on.
- Pay extra attention to your mirrors: Even with sirens blaring, you may not hear that ambulance coming up behind you. So make sure you aren’t neglecting your mirrors. And generally try to keep an elevated awareness for emergency vehicles.
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 when you’re driving, use these tips to make your hearing aids a real advantage:
- 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 distract you and could even create a dangerous situation. So keep your batteries charged and make sure everything’s working properly.
- 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, normally, your passenger is beside and not in front of you), making your drive smoother and more enjoyable.
- Every time you drive, use your hearing aid: If you don’t use it, it can’t help! So be sure you’re using your hearing aids each time you get behind the wheel. This will also help your brain acclimate to the signals your hearing aid sends your way.
Lots of individuals with hearing loss keep driving and hearing aids make the process easier and safer. Your drive will be pleasant and your eyes will remain focused on the road if you establish safe driving habits.