Don’t take your eyes off the road. Of course, it’s good advice, but it doesn’t speak to your other senses. Your ears, for example, are doing tons of work while you’re driving, helping you monitor other vehicles, alerting you to info on your dashboard, and keeping you connected with the other passengers in your vehicle.
So the way you drive can change if you’re experiencing hearing loss. That’s not to say your driving will become prohibitively dangerous. With regards to safety, inexperience and distracted driving are much greater liabilities. That being said, those with decreased hearing should take some special safeguards to stay as safe as possible.
Hearing loss can affect your situational awareness but acquiring safe driving habits can help you stay safe while driving.
How hearing loss could be affecting your driving
In general, driving is a vision-centered activity (at least, if it’s not a vision-centric activity, something has gone wrong). Even if you have total hearing loss, your driving could change but you will still likely be able to drive. While driving you do use your hearing a great deal, after all. Here are some prevalent examples:
- Your vehicle will often make audible sounds 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 beep their horn. For instance, if you start drifting into another lane or you don’t go at a green light, a horn can clue you in to your error before dangerous things take place.
- Emergency vehicles can often be heard before they can be seen.
- Your sense of hearing can help you have better awareness of other vehicles around you. You will usually be able to hear an oncoming truck, for example.
- Your hearing will often alert you when your car has some kind of malfunction. If your engine is rapping or you have an exhaust leak, for example.
By utilizing all of these audio cues, you will be developing stronger situational awareness. As your hearing loss gets worse, you might be missing more and more of these cues. But you can take some positive steps to keep your driving as safe as possible.
New safe driving habits to develop
It’s no problem if you want to keep driving even after developing hearing loss! Stay safe out on the road with these tips:
- Keep your phone stowed: Well, this is wise advice whether you suffer from hearing loss or not. One of the leading reasons for distracted driving, nowadays, is cellphones. And that goes double when you try to use them when you have hearing loss. Keeping your phone stashed can, simply, keep you safer–and save your life.
- Keep an eye on your instrument panel: Normally, when you need to pay attention to your instrument panel, your vehicle will beep or make some other sound. So regularly look down to see if any dash lights are on.
- 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 interior noise to a minimum: Hearing loss is going to make it difficult for your ears to differentiate sounds. When the wind is howling and your passenger is talking, it might become easy for your ears to grow overstimulated, which can cause you to become distracted and tired. So roll up your window, turn down the music, and keep the talking to a minimum while driving.
Keeping your hearing aid road ready
If you are dealing with hearing loss, driving is one of those scenarios where having a hearing aid can really come in handy. And there are several ways you can make sure your hearing aid is a real asset when you’re driving:
- Keep your hearing aids clean, charged, and updated: You don’t want your hearing aid batteries to die right when you’re driving to the store. That can be distracting and maybe even dangerous. So keep your batteries charged and ensure everything’s working properly.
- Have us dial in a driving setting for you: We can program a car setting into your hearing aid if you drive a lot. This setting will be adjusted for the inside space and configuration of your vehicle (where, normally, your conversation partner is to your side and not in front of you), making your drive smoother and more pleasant.
- Use your hearing aid every time you drive: If you don’t wear it, it can’t help! So be sure you’re using your hearing aids every time you get behind the wheel. This will also help your brain acclimate to the signals 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 guarantee that your drive is enjoyable and that your eyes remain safely on the road.