Keep your eyes on the road. While this might be sound advice, what about your other senses? As an example, consider the amount of work your ears are doing while driving. You’re using your ears to engage with other individuals in your vehicle, call your attention to important info appearing on your dashboard, and help you monitor other vehicles.
So when you experience hearing loss, the way you drive can change. 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 said, those with decreased hearing need to take some specific precautions to remain as safe as possible.
Developing 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 hearing loss could be impacting your driving
In general, driving is a vision-centered task (at least, if it’s not a vision-centric activity, something’s wrong). Even if you have complete hearing loss, your driving could change but you will still likely be able to drive. While driving you do use your hearing a lot, after all. Here are some typical examples:
- Even though most vehicles are engineered to decrease road noise, your sense of hearing can add to your awareness of other vehicles. You will usually be able to hear an oncoming truck, for instance.
- If has any damage, your sense of hearing can alert you to it. For example, if you run over something in the road or a rock hits your windshield.
- Audible alerts will sound when your car is attempting to alert you to something, such as an unbuckled seat belt or an open door.
- Emergency vehicles can usually be heard before they can be seen.
- If another motorist needs to make you aware of their presence, they will usually beep their horn. For instance, if you begin to drift into another lane or you don’t go at a green light, a horn can make you aware of your error before bad things take place.
All of these audio cues can help build your overall situational awareness. As your hearing loss gets worse, you may miss more and more of these cues. But there are measures you can take to ensure you stay as safe as you can while driving.
New safe driving habits to develop
It’s fine if you want to keep driving even after developing hearing loss! Stay safe out on the road with these tips:
- Minimize in-car noises: It will be difficult for your ears to isolate 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 when you’re driving, it’s a smart idea to decrease the volume on your radio, keep conversation 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.
- Put away your phone: Even if your hearing is strong, this one is still smart advice. One of the leading causes of distracted driving, nowadays, is cellphones. And that goes double when you attempt to use them with hearing loss. You will simply be safer when you put away your phone and it could save your life.
- Don’t neglect your dash lights: Normally, your car will beep or ding when you need to look at your instrument panel for something. So periodically look down to see if any dash lights are on.
How to keep your hearing aid driving ready
Driving is one of those tasks that, if you are dealing with hearing loss, 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:
- Every time you drive, wear your hearing aid: It’s not going to help you if you don’t use it! So make certain 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.
- Have us program a driving setting for you: We can program a car setting into your hearing aid if you drive a lot. This setting will be calibrated for the inside space and configuration of your vehicle (where, normally, your passenger is to your side and not in front of you), making your drive easier and more enjoyable.
- Get the most recent updates and keep your hearing aid charged and clean: You don’t want your hearing aid batteries to die right when you’re driving to the store. That can distract you and might even lead to a dangerous situation. So be sure everything is working properly and the batteries are charged.
Hearing loss doesn’t mean driving is a problem, especially with hearing aids which make it easier and safer. Developing good driving habits can help ensure that your drive is pleasant and that your eyes remain safely on the road.