Don’t take your eyes off the road. Of course, it’s good advice, but it doesn’t say much 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 people in your vehicle, alert you to important info appearing on your dashboard, and help you monitor other vehicles.
So when you’re coping with hearing impairment, how you drive can change. That doesn’t inevitably mean you will need to quit driving because you’ve become excessively dangerous. When it comes to safety, inexperience and distracted driving are far bigger liabilities. That said, those with diminished hearing need to take some special precautions to stay as safe as possible.
Hearing loss can affect your situational awareness but developing safe driving habits can help you stay safe while driving.
How hearing loss could be impacting your driving
Vision is the principal sense used when driving. Even if you have complete hearing loss, your driving could change but you will still likely be able to drive. After all, you use your hearing a great deal while you’re driving. Some prevalent examples include:
- If another driver needs to make you aware of their presence, they will often beep their horn. 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 an issue.
- Even though most vehicles are engineered to reduce road noise, your sense of hearing can add to your awareness of other vehicles. You will usually be able to hear an oncoming truck, for instance.
- You can often hear emergency vehicles before you see them.
- Your hearing will often alert you when your car has some kind of malfunction. For instance, if you run over an obstruction in the road or a rock hits your windshield.
- Audible alerts will sound when your car is trying to alert you to something, such as an unbuckled seat belt or an open door.
By utilizing all of these audio cues, you will be building stronger situational awareness. As your hearing loss progresses, you may miss more and more of these cues. But you can take some positive steps to keep your driving as safe as possible.
New safe driving habits to develop
It’s no problem if you want to continue driving even after you have hearing loss! Here are some 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 generally try to keep an elevated awareness for emergency vehicles.
- Keep your phone out of reach: Even if your hearing is good, this one is still smart advice. Phones are among the leading causes of distraction on the road today. And when you have hearing loss that distraction is at least doubled. You will simply be safer when you put away your phone and it could save your life.
- Don’t disregard your instrument panel: Typically, your car will beep or ding when you need to look at your instrument panel for something. So periodically look down to see if any dash lights are on.
- Minimize in-car noises: It will be hard for your ears to distinguish noises when you’re going through hearing loss. When the wind is blowing and your passengers are speaking, it could become easy for your ears to get overstimulated, which can cause you to become distracted and tired. So put up your window, turn down the music, and keep the talking to a minimum when driving.
How to keep your hearing aid driving ready
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:
- Have us program a driving setting for you: If you intend to do a fair amount of driving, you can ask us to give you a “car” setting on your hearing aid. This setting will be calibrated for the interior space and configuration of your vehicle (where, normally, your passenger is to your side and not in front of you), making your drive easier and more pleasant.
- Every time you drive, wear your hearing aid: If you don’t wear it, it won’t help! So be sure you’re using 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.
- 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 want is for your battery to quit. That can be distracting and perhaps even dangerous. So keep your batteries charged and ensure everything’s in working order.
Plenty of individuals with hearing loss keep driving and hearing aids make the process safer and easier. Your drive will be enjoyable and your eyes will stay focused on the road if you establish safe driving habits.