Don’t take your eyes off the road. Of course, it’s good advice, but it doesn’t speak to your other senses. For example, think about how much work your ears are doing while driving. You’re using your ears to connect with other people in your vehicle, call your attention to important info appearing on your dashboard, and help you monitor other vehicles.
So when you’re coping with hearing loss, the way you drive can vary. That’s not to say your driving will come to be excessively dangerous. With regards to safety, inexperience and distracted driving are far bigger liabilities. That being said, those with diminished hearing need to take some special safeguards to stay as safe as possible.
Developing good driving habits can go a long way to help you drive safely even if hearing loss may be affecting your situational awareness.
How your driving may be impacted by hearing loss
Vision is the main sense utilized 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 lot while you’re driving. Here are some typical examples:
- Your vehicle will often make audible sounds and alerts in order to make you aware of something (turn signals or unbuckled seat belts, for instance).
- Emergency vehicles can usually be heard before they can be seen.
- Your hearing will usually alert you when your car is damaged in some way. If your motor is rapping or you have an exhaust leak, for instance.
- If another driver needs to make you aware of their presence, they will often use their horn. For example, if you begin to drift into another lane or you remain stopped at a green light, a horn can make you aware of your mistake before dangerous things take place.
- Even though many vehicles are engineered to reduce road noise, your sense of hearing can add to your awareness of other vehicles. You will typically be able to hear an oncoming truck, for example.
By using all of these audio cues, you will be developing stronger situational awareness. You may begin to miss more and more of these audio cues as your hearing loss progresses. But there are steps you can take to ensure you still remain as safe as you can while driving.
New safe driving habits to develop
It’s no problem if you want to keep driving even after you have hearing loss! Here are a few ways you can make sure to remain safe when out on the road:
- Keep your phone out of reach: Even if your hearing is good, this one is still smart advice. One of the leading reasons for distracted driving, nowadays, is cellphones. And that doubles when you try 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 instrument panel: Typically, your car will beep or ding when you need to look at your instrument panel for something. So you’ll want to be sure to glance down (when it’s safe) and make sure your turn signals aren’t still on, or your check engine light isn’t on.
- Check your mirrors more often: Even with sirens blaring, you may not hear that ambulance coming up behind you. So make sure you aren’t neglecting your mirrors. And keep the possible presence of emergency vehicles in mind.
- Minimize in-car noises: Hearing loss will make it hard for your ears to differentiate noises. It will 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 decrease the volume on your radio, keep discussions to a minimum, and put up your windows.
Keeping your hearing aid road ready
Driving is one of those activities that, if you are dealing with hearing loss, a hearing aid can really be helpful. And there are several ways you can be certain your hearing aid is a real advantage when you’re driving:
- Get the most recent updates and keep your hearing aid charged and clean: When you’re half way to the store, the last thing you want is for your battery to quit. That can distract you and might even bring about a dangerous situation. 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 drive a lot. The size of the inside of your vehicle and the fact that your passengers will be talking to you from the side or rear will be the variables we will use to fine tune this “car setting” for easier safer driving.
- Wear your hearing aid every time you drive: It won’t help you if you don’t use it! 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 into your ears.
Plenty of people with hearing loss continue to drive 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 develop safe driving habits.