Don’t take your eyes off the road. While this might be sound advice, what about your other senses? As an example, think about how much work your ears are doing when you’re driving. You’re using your ears to connect with other individuals in your vehicle, alert you to important information coming up on your dashboard, and help you keep track of other vehicles.
So when you experience hearing loss, the way you drive can change. That’s not to say your driving will come to be excessively dangerous. Inexperience and distracted driving are bigger liabilities when it comes to safety. That said, those with declining hearing should take some special precautions to remain as safe as possible.
Hearing loss can affect your situational awareness but developing good driving habits can help you stay safe while driving.
How your driving could be impacted by hearing loss
Vision is the principal sense used when driving. Even complete hearing loss probably won’t keep you from driving, but it very likely might change how you drive. While driving you do use your hearing a great deal, after all. Here are some typical examples:
- Your sense of hearing can help you have a better sense of other vehicles around you. For instance, you will normally be able to hear a large truck coming toward you.
- If another motorist needs to make you aware of their presence, they will usually beep their horn. If you fail to notice the light turn to green, for instance, or you start to drift into the other lane, a horn can alert you before it becomes a problem.
- If has any damage, your sense of hearing can let you know. For example, if you run over something in the road or a rock hits your windshield.
- Audible alerts will sound when your vehicle is trying to alert you to something, such as an unbuckled seat belt or an open door.
- You can usually hear emergency vehicles before you can see them.
All of these audio cues can help build your total situational awareness. As your hearing loss advances, you may miss more and more of these cues. But there are measures you can take to ensure you still remain as safe as you can while driving.
New safe driving habits to develop
If you’re dealing with hearing loss and you want to keep driving, that’s fine! Stay safe out on the road using these tips:
- Keep the noise inside your car to a minimum: It will be challenging for your ears to isolate noises when you have hearing loss. It could be easy for your ears to become overwhelmed and for you to get distracted if you have passengers loudly speaking and music playing and wind in your ears. So when you’re driving, it’s a good idea to lower the volume on your radio, keep conversation to a minimum, and roll up your windows.
- Keep your phone out of reach: Well, this is wise advice whether you suffer from hearing loss or not. Today, one of the leading reasons for distraction is a cellphone. 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.
- Don’t neglect your dash lights: Normally, your car will beep or ding when you need to look at your instrument panel for something. So periodically glance down to see if any dash lights are on.
- 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 generally try to keep an elevated awareness for emergency vehicles.
How to keep your hearing aid ready for driving
Driving is one of those activities that, if you have hearing loss, a hearing aid can really be helpful. And when you’re driving, utilize these tips to make your hearing aids a real advantage:
- Get the most recent updates and keep your hearing aid charged and clean: When you’re on your way to the store, the last thing you need is for your battery to quit. That can be distracting and perhaps even dangerous. So make certain everything is working properly and the batteries are charged.
- Ask us for a “driving” setting: 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 factors we will use to fine tune this “car setting” for smoother safer driving.
- Wear your hearing aid each time you drive: If you don’t wear it, it can’t help! So every time you drive, be sure you’re wearing your hearing aids. By doing this, your brain will have an easier time acclimating to the incoming signals.
Lots of people with hearing loss keep driving and hearing aids make the process safer and easier. Developing good driving habits can help ensure that your drive is enjoyable and that your eyes stay safely on the road.