Don’t take your eyes off the road. Of course, it’s good advice, but it doesn’t say much about your other senses. As an example, think about the amount of work your ears are doing when you’re driving. You’re using your ears to engage with other people in your vehicle, call your attention to important information appearing on your dashboard, and help you monitor other vehicles.
So when you experience hearing loss, the way you drive can change. That doesn’t necessarily mean you will have to stop driving because you’ve become overly dangerous. Distracted driving and inexperience are bigger liabilities when it comes to safety. That being said, those with diminished hearing need to take some special safeguards to remain as safe as possible.
Hearing loss can impact your situational awareness but developing safe driving habits can help you remain a safe driver.
How hearing loss could be affecting your driving
Vision is the primary sense utilized when driving. Even if you have total hearing loss, your driving could 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:
- If there is any damage to your vehicle, your sense of hearing can let you know. For instance, if you run over an obstruction in the road or a rock hits your windshield.
- You can usually hear emergency vehicles before you see them.
- Your sense of hearing can help you have a better sense of other vehicles near you. You will usually be able to hear an oncoming truck, for example.
- Your vehicle will often make audible noises and alerts in order to alert you to something (turn signals or unbuckled seat belts, for example).
- If another driver needs to make you aware of their presence, they will usually use their horn. If you fail to see the light turn to green, for instance, or you start to wander into the other lane, a horn can get your attention before it becomes an issue.
All of these audio cues can help develop your total situational awareness. You may begin to miss more and more of these audio cues as your hearing loss progresses. But there are steps 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 fine! Here are some ways you can make sure to remain safe while driving:
- Put away your phone: Well, this is wise advice whether you suffer from hearing loss or not. Today, one of the leading reasons for distraction is a cellphone. 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.
- Keep an eye on your dash lights.: Usually, your car will beep or ding when you need to look at your instrument panel for some reason. So regularly look down to see if any dash lights are on.
- Check your mirrors more often: 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 interior noise to a minimum: It will be difficult for your ears to isolate sounds when you have hearing loss. It will be easy for your ears to become overstimulated and for you to get distracted if you have passengers loudly speaking 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.
Keeping your hearing aid ready for the road
If you have hearing loss, driving is one of those instances where having a hearing aid can really help. And there are a few ways you can make sure your hearing aid is a real advantage when you’re driving:
- Have us program a driving setting for you: We can program a car setting into your hearing aid if you do a lot of driving. This setting will be adjusted for the interior space and setup of your vehicle (where, normally, your conversation partner is beside and not in front of you), making your drive smoother and more pleasant.
- Keep your hearing aids clean, charged, and updated: When you’re on your way to the store, the last thing you want is for your battery to quit. That can be distracting and perhaps even dangerous. So be sure everything is in good working order and the batteries are charged.
- Use your hearing aid every time you drive: It won’t help you if you don’t wear it! So each time you drive, be sure you’re wearing your hearing aids. This will also help your brain get used to the signals your hearing aid sends into your ears.
Lots of individuals with hearing loss continue to drive and hearing aids make the process safer and easier. Your drive will be pleasant and your eyes will remain focused on the road if you establish safe driving habits.