Keep your eyes on the road. While this might be sound advice, what about your other senses? Your ears, for instance, are doing tons of work while you’re driving, helping you monitor other vehicles, calling your attention to info on your dashboard, and keeping you engaged with the other people in your vehicle.
So when you experience hearing loss, how you drive can vary. 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 decreased hearing should take some specific precautions to stay as safe as possible.
Hearing loss can impact your situational awareness but developing good driving habits can help you remain a safe driver.
How hearing loss might be impacting your driving
In general, driving is a vision-centric task (at least, if it’s not a vision-centric activity, something has gone wrong). Even total hearing loss probably won’t keep you from driving, but it very likely could change the way you drive. While driving you do use your hearing a great deal, after all. Here are some typical examples:
- Other motorists will commonly use their horns to make you aware of 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 alert you before it becomes an issue.
- Emergency vehicles can often be heard before they can be seen.
- Your sense of hearing can help you have a better sense of other vehicles around you. For example, you will usually be able to hear a large truck coming your way.
- If has any damage, your sense of hearing can let you know. For example, if you run over an obstruction in the road or a rock hits your windshield.
- Audible alerts will sound when your vehicle is trying to alert you to something, like an unbuckled seat belt or an open door.
By utilizing all of these audio cues, you will be building better situational awareness. As your hearing loss progresses, you might be missing more and more of these cues. But there are steps you can take to ensure you still remain as safe as possible while driving.
Practicing new safe driving habits
If you’re experiencing hearing loss and you want to keep driving, that’s okay! Stay safe out on the road with these tips:
- Pay extra attention to your mirrors: Even with sirens blaring, you may not hear that ambulance coming up behind you. So be vigilant about checking your mirrors. And keep the possible presence of emergency vehicles in mind.
- Put your phone away: 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 with hearing loss. Keeping your phone stowed can, simply, keep you safer–and save your life.
- Keep an eye on your dash lights.: Typically, when you need to pay attention to your instrument panel, your vehicle will ding 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 on, or your check engine light isn’t on.
- Keep interior noise to a minimum: It will be difficult for your ears to distinguish sounds when you have hearing loss. When the wind is blowing and your passenger is talking, it might become easy for your ears to get overstimulated, which can cause you to become distracted and tired. So when you’re driving, it’s a good idea to reduce the volume on your radio, keep discussions to a minimum, and put up your windows.
Keeping your hearing aid road ready
If you have hearing loss, driving is one of those situations where having a hearing aid can really come in handy. And there are a few ways you can be certain your hearing aid is a real advantage when you’re driving:
- Get the most recent updates and keep your hearing aid clean and charged: You don’t want your hearing aid batteries to die right in the middle of a drive to the store. That can distract you and could even lead to a dangerous situation. So make certain everything is working properly and the batteries are charged.
- Ask us for a “driving” setting: We can program a car setting into your hearing aid if you do a lot of driving. This setting will be calibrated for the interior space and configuration of your vehicle (where, normally, your passenger is to your side and not in front of you), making your drive smoother and more pleasant.
- Wear your hearing aid each time you drive: If you don’t wear it, it won’t help! So every time you drive, make certain you’re wearing your hearing aids. This will also help your brain get used to the sounds your hearing aid sends your way.
Lots of individuals with hearing loss keep driving and hearing aids make the process easier and safer. Establishing safer driving habits can help ensure that your drive is pleasant and that your eyes remain safely on the road.