Keep your eyes on the road. While this might be sound advice, what about your other senses? Your ears, for example, are doing tons of work while you’re driving, helping you track other vehicles, calling your attention to info on your dashboard, and keeping you engaged with the other passengers in your vehicle.
So how you drive can change if you’re going through hearing loss. That’s not to say your driving will come to be excessively dangerous. With regards to safety, inexperience and distracted driving are much greater liabilities. That being said, those with diminished hearing should take some specific precautions to stay as safe as possible.
Hearing loss can affect your situational awareness but developing good driving habits can help you remain a safe driver.
How your driving may be effected by hearing loss
Generally, driving is a vision-centered task (at least, if it’s not a vision-centric activity, something’s wrong). Even full-blown hearing loss probably won’t keep you from driving, but it very likely could change how you drive. After all, you use your hearing a great deal 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 example).
- You can often hear emergency vehicles before you can 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.
- Your sense of hearing can help you have a better sense of other vehicles around you. You will usually be able to hear an oncoming truck, for instance.
- Other drivers will often honk their horns to make you aware of their presence. If you fail to notice the light turn to green, for example, or you start to wander into the other lane, a horn can get your attention before it becomes an issue.
All of these audio cues can help develop your overall situational awareness. You could 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.
New safe driving habits to develop
It’s no problem if you want to keep driving even after developing hearing loss! Here are a few ways you can make sure to stay safe when out on the road:
- 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 highest causes of distraction on the road today. 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.
- Keep an eye on 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.
- Keep interior noise to a minimum: It will be challenging for your ears to distinguish noises when you’re going through hearing loss. It could be easy for your ears to become overstimulated and for you to get distracted if you have passengers loudly talking and music playing and wind in your ears. So roll up your window, turn down the music, and keep the talking to a minimum when driving.
How to keep your hearing aid driving ready
If you are dealing with hearing loss, driving is one of those instances where wearing a hearing aid can really come in handy. And there are several ways you can be certain your hearing aid is a real asset when you’re driving:
- Have us program a driving setting for you: If you anticipate doing a fair amount of driving, you can ask us to program a “car” setting on your hearing aid. 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 optimize this “car setting” for easier safer driving.
- Every time you drive, use your hearing aid: It’s not going to help you if you don’t wear it! So make sure you’re wearing your hearing aids every time you get behind the wheel. This will also help your brain get used to the sounds your hearing aid sends into your ears.
- Get the most recent updates and keep your hearing aid charged and clean: You don’t want your hearing aid batteries to quit right when you’re driving to the store. That can be distracting and perhaps even dangerous. So make sure everything is in good working order and the batteries are charged.
Plenty of individuals with hearing loss keep driving 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.