Don’t take your eyes off the road. While this may be sound advice, how about your other senses? Your ears, for instance, are doing tons of work when you’re driving, helping you monitor other vehicles, calling your attention to information on your dashboard, and keeping you connected with the other individuals in your vehicle.
So when you experience hearing loss, how you drive can vary. That’s not to say your driving will become excessively dangerous. With regards to safety, inexperience and distracted driving are much bigger liabilities. That being said, those with declining hearing should take some specific safeguards to remain as safe as possible.
Hearing loss can affect your situational awareness but formulating good driving habits can help you remain a safe driver.
How your driving could be effected by hearing loss
In general, driving is a vision-centric task (at least, if it’s not a vision-centric activity, something has gone wrong). Even total hearing loss most likely won’t stop you from driving, but it very likely might change how you drive. While driving you do utilize your hearing a lot, after all. Here are some prevalent examples:
- Other motorists will commonly honk their horns to alert you to their presence. If you fail to see the light turn to green, for example, or you start to drift into the other lane, a horn can get your attention before it becomes a problem.
- Emergency vehicles can often be heard before they can be seen.
- If has any damage, 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 noises and alerts in order to alert you to something (turn signals or unbuckled seat belts, for instance).
- Even though most vehicles are engineered to decrease road noise, your sense of hearing can add to your awareness of other vehicles. For instance, you will normally be able to hear a large truck coming toward you.
By utilizing all of these audio cues, you will be developing better situational awareness. You may start to miss more and more of these audio cues as your hearing loss progresses. But you can practice some positive measures to keep your driving as safe as possible.
Developing new safe driving habits
It’s no problem if you want to continue driving even after you have hearing loss! Stay safe out on the road with these tips:
- Keep the noise inside your car to a minimum: It will be difficult for your ears to distinguish noises when you have hearing loss. It will be easy for your ears to get overwhelmed and for you to get distracted if you have passengers loudly talking 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 stowed: Even if your hearing is good, this one is still good advice. One of the leading causes of distracted driving, nowadays, is cellphones. And that doubles when you try to use them when you have hearing loss. Keeping your phone stashed can, simply, keep you safer–and save your life.
- Don’t ignore your instrument panel: Usually, your car will ding or beep when you need to look at your instrument panel for some reason. So periodically glance down to see if any dash lights are on.
- Pay extra attention to your mirrors: 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 driving ready
Driving is one of those tasks that, if you have hearing loss, a hearing aid can really be helpful. And there are several ways you can make sure your hearing aid is a real asset when you’re driving:
- Get the most recent updates and keep your hearing aid clean and charged: When you’re half way to the store, the last thing you want is for your battery to die. That can be distracting and perhaps even dangerous. So make certain everything is working properly and the batteries are charged.
- Have us dial in 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 configuration of your vehicle (where, normally, your conversation partner is to your side and not in front of you), making your drive easier and more pleasant.
- Wear your hearing aid each time you drive: If you don’t wear it, it can’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 getting used to the incoming sounds.
Plenty of individuals with hearing loss keep driving 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.