Keep your eyes on the road. Of course, it’s good advice, but it doesn’t say much about your other senses. As an example, consider the amount of work your ears are doing while driving. You’re using your ears to connect with other individuals in your vehicle, call your attention to important information coming up on your dashboard, and help you keep track of other vehicles.
So when you experience hearing loss, how you drive can vary. That’s not to say your driving will come to be excessively dangerous. Distracted driving and inexperience are greater liabilities when it comes to safety. That being said, those with diminished hearing should take some special safeguards to remain as safe as possible.
Establishing good driving habits can go a long way to help you remain a safe driver even if hearing loss may be influencing your situational awareness.
How your driving might be impacted by hearing loss
Vision is the main sense used when driving. Even complete hearing loss probably won’t stop you from driving, but it very likely could change how you drive. After all, you use your hearing quite a bit while you’re driving. Some typical examples include:
- Emergency vehicles can usually be heard before they can be seen.
- Other motorists will commonly use their horns to alert you to their presence. If you fail to notice 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.
- Audible alerts will sound when your vehicle is trying to alert you to something, such as an unbuckled seat belt or an open door.
- Even though many vehicles are engineered to decrease 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 your way.
- If there is any damage to your vehicle, your sense of hearing can let you know. If your engine is knocking or you have an exhaust leak, for example.
All of these audio cues can help develop your overall situational awareness. As your hearing loss advances, you may miss more and more of these cues. But you can practice some positive measures to keep your driving as safe as possible.
New safe driving habits to develop
If you’re dealing with hearing loss and you want to continue to drive, that’s okay! Stay safe out on the road using these tips:
- Keep your phone out of reach: Even if your hearing is strong, this one is still smart advice. Phones are among the leading causes of distraction on the road today. And that doubles when you attempt to use them when you have hearing loss. Keeping your phone stashed can, simply, keep you and other people safer–and save your life.
- Don’t neglect your dash lights: Typically, your car will beep or ding when you need to look at your instrument panel for some reason. So periodically look down to see if any dash lights are on.
- Minimize in-car noises: Hearing loss is going to make it difficult for your ears to separate sounds. It could 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 in your ears. So when you’re driving, it’s a smart idea to lower the volume on your radio, keep discussions to a minimum, and put 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 keep the possible presence of emergency vehicles in mind.
Keeping your hearing aid ready for the road
Driving is one of those tasks that, if you are dealing with hearing loss, a hearing aid can really help. And there are several ways you can make sure your hearing aid is a real asset when you’re driving:
- Use your hearing aid each time you drive: If you don’t wear it, it won’t help! So make certain you’re wearing your hearing aids each time you get behind the wheel. By doing this, your brain will have an easier time acclimating to the incoming sounds.
- Keep your hearing aids clean, updated, and charged: You don’t want your hearing aid batteries to die right in the middle of a drive to the store. That can be distracting and possibly even dangerous. So be sure everything is working properly and the batteries are charged.
- Have us dial in a driving setting for you: If you intend to do a lot of driving, you can ask us to give you a “car” setting on your hearing aid. This setting will be adjusted for the inside space and setup of your vehicle (where, normally, your conversation partner is beside and not in front of you), making your drive easier and more pleasant.
Hearing loss doesn’t mean driving is an issue, particularly with hearing aids which make it easier and safer. Your drive will be enjoyable and your eyes will remain focused on the road if you establish safe driving habits.