Keep your eyes on the road. Naturally, it’s good advice, but it doesn’t say much about your other senses. Your ears, for instance, are doing a ton of work while you’re driving, helping you track other vehicles, calling your attention to info on your dashboard, and keeping you connected 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 become excessively dangerous. With regards to safety, inexperience and distracted driving are much greater liabilities. Still, some specific precautions need to be taken by individuals with hearing loss to ensure they keep driving as safely as possible.
Hearing loss can affect your situational awareness but formulating safe driving habits can help you stay safe while driving.
How your driving could be effected by hearing loss
Vision is the main sense used when driving. Even if you have complete hearing loss, your driving could change but you will still likely be able to drive. After all, you use your hearing a lot while you’re driving. Some typical examples include:
- Emergency vehicles can often be heard before they can be seen.
- Your vehicle will often make audible sounds and alerts in order to make you aware of something (turn signals or unbuckled seat belts, for instance).
- Other drivers will often honk their horns to make you aware of their presence. 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.
- Even though most vehicles are engineered to reduce road noise, your sense of hearing can raise your awareness of other vehicles. For example, you will normally be able to hear a large truck coming your way.
- Your hearing will usually alert you when your car is damaged in some way. For example, if you run over an obstruction in the road or a rock hits your windshield.
All of these audio cues can help develop your total situational awareness. As your hearing loss progresses, you may miss more and more of these cues. But you can practice some positive measures to keep your driving as safe as possible.
New safe driving habits to develop
If you’re dealing with hearing loss and you want to continue to drive, that’s okay! Stay safe out on the road using these tips:
- Put away your phone: 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. You will simply be safer when you put your phone away and it could save your life.
- Keep an eye on your dash lights.: Normally, when you need to give attention to your instrument panel, your vehicle will ding or make some other sound. So regularly glance down to see if any dash lights are on.
- Minimize in-car noises: It will be hard for your ears to distinguish sounds when you’re going through hearing loss. It could be easy for your ears to become overwhelmed and for you to get distracted if you have passengers loudly talking and music playing and wind in your ears. So put up your window, turn down the music, and keep the talking to a minimum while driving.
- 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 make sure you aren’t neglecting your mirrors. And generally try to keep an elevated awareness for emergency vehicles.
How to keep your hearing aid driving ready
If you have hearing loss, driving is one of those situations where wearing 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:
- Ask us for a “driving” setting: If you anticipate doing a fair amount of driving, you can ask us to program a “car” setting on your hearing aid. This setting will be adjusted for the inside space and setup 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: When you’re half way to the store, the last thing you want is for your battery to quit. That can distract you and may even create a dangerous situation. So keep your batteries charged and ensure everything’s in working order.
- Each time you drive, use your hearing aid: If you don’t wear it, it can’t help! So be sure you’re wearing your hearing aids every time you drive. By doing this, your brain will have an easier time getting used to the incoming signals.
Plenty of people with hearing loss continue to drive and hearing aids make the process easier and safer. Developing good driving habits can help guarantee that your drive is enjoyable and that your eyes stay safely on the road.