Keep your eyes on the road. Naturally, 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 people in your vehicle.
So when you’re coping with hearing impairment, how you drive can change. That’s not to say your driving will become prohibitively dangerous. Distracted driving and inexperience are bigger liabilities in terms of safety. Nevertheless, some special precautions need to be taken by individuals with hearing loss to ensure they keep driving as safely as possible.
Hearing loss can impact your situational awareness but acquiring safe driving habits can help you stay safe while driving.
How hearing loss could be affecting your driving
Vision is the primary sense utilized when driving. Even if you have total hearing loss, your driving could 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:
- Other motorists will often honk their horns to alert you to their presence. If you fail to notice the light turn to green, for example, or you begin to wander into the other lane, a horn can alert you before it becomes a problem.
- Audible alerts will sound when your vehicle is trying to alert you to something, like an unbuckled seat belt or an open door.
- You can usually hear emergency vehicles before you can see them.
- If has any damage, your sense of hearing can alert you to it. For instance, if you run over an obstruction in the road or a rock hits your windshield.
- Even though most vehicles are engineered to decrease road noise, your sense of hearing can add to your awareness of other vehicles. For example, you will normally be able to hear a large truck coming toward you.
All of these audio cues can help develop your total situational awareness. You could start to miss more and more of these audio cues as your hearing loss advances. But there are measures you can take to ensure you still remain as safe as you can while driving.
Developing new safe driving habits
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:
- Minimize in-car noises: It will be difficult for your ears to distinguish noises when you’re going through hearing loss. When the wind is blowing and your passenger is speaking, it might become easy for your ears to get overstimulated, 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 discussions to a minimum, and roll up your windows.
- Check your mirrors more often: Even with sirens blaring, you may not hear that ambulance coming up behind you. So be vigilant about checking your mirrors. And generally try to keep an elevated awareness for emergency vehicles.
- Keep your phone out of reach: Even if your hearing is strong, this one is still good advice. Today, one of the leading reasons for distraction is a cellphone. 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 instrument panel: Typically, when you need to pay attention to your instrument panel, your vehicle will beep or make some other sound. So periodically look down to see if any dash lights are on.
How to keep your hearing aid driving ready
Driving is one of those activities that, if you are dealing with hearing loss, a hearing aid can really help. And there are a few ways you can be certain your hearing aid is a real asset when you’re driving:
- Wear your hearing aid every time you drive: If you don’t use it, it can’t help! So each time you drive, be sure you’re wearing your hearing aids. This will also help your brain acclimate to the sounds your hearing aid sends your way.
- Get the most recent updates and keep your hearing aid charged and clean: You don’t want your hearing aid batteries to die right in the middle of a drive to the store. That can be distracting and perhaps even dangerous. 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 interior space and configuration of your vehicle (where, usually, your passenger is to your side and not in front of you), making your drive easier and more enjoyable.
Lots of individuals with hearing loss continue to drive and hearing aids make the process easier and safer. Your drive will be enjoyable and your eyes will stay focused on the road if you establish safe driving habits.