Keep your eyes on the road. Obviously, it’s good advice, but it doesn’t say much about your other senses. As an example, consider 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 appearing on your dashboard, and help you monitor other vehicles.
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. When it comes to safety, inexperience and distracted driving are far bigger liabilities. That being said, those with diminished hearing should take some specific precautions to stay as safe as possible.
Hearing loss can impact your situational awareness but acquiring safe driving habits can help you remain a safe driver.
How your driving may be effected by hearing loss
Generally, driving is a vision-centered activity (at least, if it’s not a vision-centric activity, something has gone wrong). Even full-blown hearing loss most likely 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. Here are some typical examples:
- Emergency vehicles can usually be heard before they can be seen.
- Audible alerts will sound when your car is attempting to alert you to something, such as an unbuckled seat belt or an open door.
- Your sense of hearing can help you have better awareness of other vehicles around you. You will typically be able to hear an oncoming truck, for example.
- If another motorist needs to make you aware of their presence, they will often use their horn. For example, if you begin to drift into another lane or you remain stopped at a green light, a horn can make you aware of your mistake before bad things take place.
- If has any damage, your sense of hearing can let you know. If your engine is knocking or you have an exhaust leak, for instance.
By using all of these audio cues, you will be building better situational awareness. You could start to miss more and more of these audio cues as your hearing loss progresses. But there are measures you can take to ensure you still remain as safe as you can while driving.
New safe driving habits to develop
If you’re experiencing hearing loss and you want to keep driving, that’s okay! Stay safe out on the road using these tips:
- Minimize in-car noises: 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 get overstimulated and for you to get distracted if you have passengers loudly talking and music playing and wind blowing in your ears. So roll up your window, turn down the music, and keep the talking to a minimum while driving.
- 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.
- Keep your phone out of reach: Well, this is good advice whether you suffer from hearing loss or not. Phones are among the leading causes of distraction on the road today. And with hearing loss that distraction is at least doubled. Keeping your phone stowed can, simply, keep you and other people safer–and save your life.
- Don’t disregard your dash lights: Normally, 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 make sure your turn signals aren’t still blinking, or your check engine light isn’t on.
How to keep your hearing aid driving ready
If you have hearing loss, driving is one of those instances where wearing a hearing aid can really help. And there are a few ways you can be certain your hearing aid is a real asset when you’re driving:
- Use your hearing aid each time you drive: If you don’t use it, it can’t help! So each time you drive, make certain you’re wearing your hearing aids. By doing this, your brain will have an easier time getting used to the incoming signals.
- Get the most recent updates and keep your hearing aid charged and clean: When you’re half way to the store, the last thing you need is for your battery to die. That can be distracting and maybe even dangerous. So make sure everything is in good working order and the batteries are charged.
- 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. 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 fine tune this “car setting” for easier safer driving.
Plenty of individuals with hearing loss continue to drive and hearing aids make the process easier and safer. Developing safer driving habits can help ensure that your drive is enjoyable and that your eyes stay safely on the road.