Don’t take your eyes off the road. While this may be sound advice, what about your other senses? As an example, think about how much work your ears are doing while driving. You’re using your ears to connect with other individuals in your vehicle, alert you to important information coming up on your dashboard, and help you keep track of other vehicles.
So how you drive can change if you’re experiencing hearing loss. That’s not to say your driving will become excessively dangerous. Inexperience and distracted driving are larger liabilities when it comes to safety. Still, some specific precautions should be taken by individuals with hearing loss to ensure they continue driving as safely as possible.
Developing good driving habits can go a long way to help you remain a safe driver even if hearing impairment might be influencing your situational awareness.
How hearing loss could be affecting your driving
Vision is the main sense used when driving. Even if you have complete hearing loss, your driving may change but you will still likely be able to drive. After all, you use your hearing quite a bit while you’re driving. Some typical examples include:
- Even though most vehicles are designed to reduce road noise, your sense of hearing can raise your awareness of other vehicles. For instance, you will usually be able to hear a large truck coming toward you.
- If another motorist needs to make you aware of their presence, they will usually beep their horn. 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.
- You can often hear emergency vehicles before you can see them.
- If has any damage, your sense of hearing can alert you to it. If your motor is knocking or you have an exhaust leak, for example.
- Your vehicle will often make audible sounds and alerts in order to alert you to something (turn signals or unbuckled seat belts, for instance).
All of these audio cues can help build your overall situational awareness. You could begin 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 fine if you want to keep driving even after you have hearing loss! Here are some ways you can make sure to remain safe while driving:
- Keep your phone out of reach: Even if your hearing is good, this one is still smart advice. Phones are among the leading causes of distraction on the road today. And that goes double when you attempt 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.: Typically, when you need to give attention to your instrument panel, your vehicle will beep or make some other sound. So you’ll want to be sure to glance down (when it’s safe) and confirm your turn signals aren’t still blinking, or you don’t have a check engine light on.
- Keep interior noise to a minimum: It will be difficult for your ears to isolate noises when you’re going through hearing loss. 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 volume, and keep conversations to a minimum while driving.
- 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.
How to keep your hearing aid ready for driving
Driving is one of those tasks that, if you have hearing loss, a hearing aid can really help. And there are several ways you can be certain your hearing aid is a real asset when you’re driving:
- Ask us for a “driving” setting: If you intend to do a lot of driving, you can ask us to program a “car” setting on your hearing aid. This setting will be adjusted for the interior space and setup of your vehicle (where, normally, your passenger is to your side and not in front of you), making your drive easier and more enjoyable.
- Keep your hearing aids clean, updated, and charged: When you’re half way to the store, the last thing you want is for your battery to quit. That can be distracting and maybe even dangerous. So keep your batteries charged and ensure everything’s working properly.
- Wear your hearing aid each time you drive: It’s not going to help you if you don’t wear it! So make certain you’re using your hearing aids every time you get behind the wheel. By doing this, your brain will have an easier time acclimating to the incoming sounds.
Lots of people with hearing loss continue to drive and hearing aids make the process safer and easier. Establishing good driving habits can help guarantee that your drive is pleasant and that your eyes remain safely on the road.