Hearing loss is a widespread challenge for older individuals, but does it merit quitting driving? Driving habits vary amongst different people so the response isn’t clear-cut.
While hearing loss is a factor to consider when operating a vehicle, a seasoned driver remains capable even if they need to lower the volume on the radio.
Whether hearing loss poses a risk while driving is an important consideration for those planning regular commutes or winter road trips. Is your hearing loss making you a dangerous driver?
Think beyond driving…
Early stage hearing loss most likely won’t negatively impact your driving, but if it goes untreated, driving will become increasingly hazardous.
There is a solid link between hearing health and brain health, as reported by Johns Hopkins Medicine. Battling to hear forces your brain to use valuable resources just to comprehend what individuals are saying. It has a negative impact on cognition and can play a role in the onset of dementia. An individual suffering from dementia certainly can’t drive.
If you have hearing loss, can you still drive?
Driving requires strong observational skills and some of that is auditory, but that doesn’t mean you can’t drive if you have hearing loss. The Center for Hearing and Communication reports that around 48 million Americans have significant hearing loss, and a good portion of them still drive.
Guidelines for driving if you have hearing loss
With a few adjustments, you can still stay safe on the road. Here are some tips.
Quit putting off
Come in to see us for a hearing exam and find out if hearing aids will help your condition. Hearing aids can help get rid of the “should I be driving with hearing loss” question.
When you drive, be more aware
Even if you have hearing aids, you will still need to be a more observant driver to ensure you aren’t missing anything in or around your vehicle.
Don’t let it get too noisy in your car
This will allow you to focus your listening on driving without distractions. Ask your passengers to chat more quietly and keep the radio down or off.
Remember to look at your dashboard frequently
It’s the little things that will add up when you drive with hearing loss. You may not be capable of hearing that clicking sound that your turn signal makes, for instance. You will have to rely on your eyes to compensate, so get in the habit of checking your dashboard to see what your car is attempting to tell you.
Make maintenance a priority
Perhaps your car is making a strange noise in the engine but you can’t hear it. That is a major safety hazard, so make a point of having your car serviced regularly. That’s a smart plan for most individuals but a necessity if you are driving with hearing loss.
Pay attention to other vehicles around you
Of course, you would do that anyway, but you want to watch for signs you might be missing something. If you see other cars pulling to the side of the road, you should do that too because you may have missed the sirens. Use the behavior of other drivers to get some visual clues about traffic patterns around you.
Can you drive when you have hearing loss? That’s up to you. Your other senses will normally adjust to help keep you safe, which means it is feasible to drive safely even if your hearing has started to go. If the idea makes you nervous, though, then it’s time to consult us and find a treatment to improve your situation, like wearing hearing aids.
Contact us today to schedule your hearing exam and look into hearing aid options for your distinctive lifestyle.