Don’t take your eyes off the road. Obviously, it’s good advice, but it doesn’t speak to your other senses. Your ears, for example, are doing a ton of work when you’re driving, helping you track other vehicles, calling your attention to info on your dashboard, and keeping you engaged with the other individuals in your vehicle.
So how you drive can change if you’re going through hearing loss. That’s not to say your driving will become excessively dangerous. Inexperience and distracted driving are bigger liabilities when it comes to safety. Nevertheless, some specific precautions need to be taken by people with hearing loss to ensure they continue driving as safely as possible.
Establishing good driving habits can go a long way to help you remain a safe driver even if hearing impairment may be influencing your situational awareness.
How your driving could be impacted by hearing loss
Generally, driving is a vision-centered activity (at least, if it’s not a vision-centric activity, something’s wrong). Even if you have total hearing loss, your driving may change but you will still likely be able to drive. After all, you use your hearing a lot while you’re driving. Some prevalent examples include:
- Your vehicle will often make audible noises and alerts in order to make you aware of something (turn signals or unbuckled seat belts, for instance).
- Your sense of hearing can help you have a better sense of other vehicles near you. For example, you will usually be able to hear a large truck coming your way.
- If has any damage, your sense of hearing can let you know. For example, if you run over an obstruction in the road or a rock hits your windshield.
- Other drivers will commonly honk their horns to alert you to their presence. For instance, if you begin to drift into another lane or you don’t go at a green light, a horn can make you aware of your mistake before dangerous things take place.
- You can often hear emergency vehicles before you can see them.
By utilizing all of these audio cues, you will be developing better situational awareness. As your hearing loss progresses, you might be missing more and more of these cues. But there are measures you can take to ensure you stay as safe as possible while driving.
New safe driving habits to develop
If you’re dealing with hearing loss and you want to continue to drive, that’s fine! Stay safe out on the road with these tips:
- Keep interior noise to a minimum: Hearing loss will make it hard for your ears to differentiate sounds. It will be easy for your ears to become overwhelmed and for you to get distracted if you have passengers loudly talking and music playing and wind blowing in your ears. So put up your window, turn down the music, and keep conversations to a minimum when driving.
- Pay extra attention to your mirrors: Even with sirens blaring, you may not hear that ambulance coming up behind you. So be vigilant about checking your mirrors. And keep the possible presence of emergency vehicles in mind.
- Put your phone away: Well, this is wise advice whether you suffer from hearing loss or not. Today, one of the leading causes of distraction is a cellphone. And that doubles when you try to use them with hearing loss. You will simply be safer when you put away your phone and it could save your life.
- Don’t disregard your dash lights: Normally, your car will beep or ding when you need to look at your instrument panel for some reason. So periodically glance down to see if any dash lights are on.
Keeping your hearing aid ready for the road
Driving is one of those activities that, if you are dealing with hearing loss, a hearing aid can really help. And when you’re driving, use these tips to make your hearing aids a real advantage:
- Have us program a driving setting for you: If you anticipate doing a lot of driving, you can ask us to program a “car” setting on your hearing aid. 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 smoother and more enjoyable.
- Each time you drive, wear your hearing aid: It’s not going to help you if you don’t use it! So every 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 clean and charged: You don’t want your hearing aid batteries to quit right when you’re driving to the store. That can distract you and might even lead to a dangerous situation. So keep your batteries charged and make sure everything’s in working order.
Lots 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.