Keep your eyes on the road. While this might be sound advice, how about your other senses? Your ears, for instance, are doing a ton of work while you’re driving, helping you keep track of 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 come to be prohibitively dangerous. With regards to safety, inexperience and distracted driving are much bigger liabilities. That said, those with diminished hearing should take some special safeguards to stay as safe as possible.
Hearing loss can impact your situational awareness but formulating safe driving habits can help you stay safe while driving.
How your driving could be effected by hearing loss
Vision is the primary sense utilized when driving. Even if you have total hearing loss, your driving may change but you will still probably be able to drive. After all, you use your hearing a lot while you’re driving. Some typical examples include:
- Even though many vehicles are designed to reduce road noise, your sense of hearing can raise your awareness of other vehicles. You will typically be able to hear an oncoming truck, for instance.
- 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).
- Other drivers will often honk their horns to make you aware of their presence. For example, if you begin to drift into another lane or you don’t go at a green light, a horn can clue you in to your mistake before bad things happen.
- Emergency vehicles can often be heard before they can be seen.
- Your hearing will often alert you when your car has some kind of malfunction. If your motor is knocking or you have an exhaust leak, for example.
All of these audio cues can help develop your total situational awareness. You could begin to miss more and more of these audio cues as your hearing loss advances. But you can take 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 continue driving even after developing hearing loss! Stay safe out on the road with these tips:
- Put your phone away: Well, this is good advice whether you suffer from hearing loss or not. One of the leading reasons for distracted driving, nowadays, is cellphones. And that doubles when you try to use them with hearing loss. Keeping your phone stowed can, simply, keep you and other people safer–and save your life.
- Don’t disregard your instrument panel: Normally, when you need to give attention to your instrument panel, your vehicle will ding or make some other sound. So you’ll want to be sure to glance down (when it’s safe) and make sure your turn signals aren’t still blinking, or your check engine light isn’t on.
- Keep the noise inside your car to a minimum: Hearing loss is going to make it hard for your ears to differentiate noises. It will be easy for your ears to get overstimulated and for you to get distracted if you have passengers loudly talking and music playing and wind blowing 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.
- 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 be vigilant about checking your mirrors. And generally try to keep an elevated awareness for emergency vehicles.
Keeping your hearing aid road ready
If you suffer from hearing loss, driving is one of those instances where having a hearing aid can really help. And when you’re driving, use these tips to make your hearing aids a real advantage:
- Each time you drive, use your hearing aid: It’s not going to help you if you don’t use it! So be sure you’re using your hearing aids every time you drive. By doing this, your brain will have an easier time getting used to the incoming sounds.
- 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 need is for your battery to quit. That can be distracting and perhaps even dangerous. So keep your batteries charged and make sure everything’s working properly.
- Ask us for a “driving” setting: We can program a car setting into your hearing aid if you do a lot of driving. The size of the interior of your vehicle and the fact that your passengers will be talking to you from the side or rear will be the factors we will use to optimize this “car setting” for easier safer driving.
Hearing loss doesn’t mean driving is an issue, particularly with hearing aids which make it easier and safer. Your drive will be pleasant and your eyes will stay focused on the road if you develop safe driving habits.