Keep your eyes on the road. Naturally, it’s good advice, but it doesn’t speak to 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, how you drive can change. That’s not to say your driving will come to be prohibitively dangerous. With regards to safety, inexperience and distracted driving are much bigger liabilities. That said, those with diminished hearing need to take some specific safeguards to remain as safe as possible.
Establishing good driving habits can go a long way to help you drive safely even if hearing loss might be influencing your situational awareness.
How hearing loss might be affecting your driving
Vision is the main sense utilized when driving. Even complete hearing loss most likely won’t stop you from driving, but it very likely might change the way you drive. After all, you use your hearing a lot while you’re driving. Here are some typical examples:
- Even though most vehicles are engineered to decrease road noise, your sense of hearing can add to your awareness of other vehicles. You will typically be able to hear an oncoming truck, for example.
- Other motorists will often honk their horns to make you aware of their presence. If you fail to see the light turn to green, for instance, or you begin to drift into the other lane, a horn can get your attention before it becomes a problem.
- You can usually hear emergency vehicles before you can see them.
- Audible alerts will sound when your car is attempting to alert you to something, like an unbuckled seat belt or an open door.
- If there is any damage to your vehicle, 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.
All of these audio cues can help build your overall situational awareness. As your hearing loss advances, you may miss more and more of these cues. But you can practice 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 you have hearing loss! Here are a few ways you can make sure to remain safe when out on the road:
- 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 keep the possible presence of emergency vehicles in mind.
- Put away your phone: Well, this is good advice whether you suffer from hearing loss or not. Phones are among the leading causes of distraction on the road today. And when you have hearing loss that distraction is at least doubled. Keeping your phone stashed can, simply, keep you and other people safer–and save your life.
- Don’t neglect your dash lights: Normally, when you need to give 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 confirm your turn signals aren’t still blinking, or you don’t have a check engine light on.
- Keep interior noise to a minimum: Hearing loss is going to make it hard for your ears to differentiate noises. When the wind is blowing and your passengers are speaking, it might become easy for your ears to get overstimulated, which can cause you to become distracted and tired. So put up your window, turn down the music, and keep conversations to a minimum when driving.
How to keep your hearing aid driving ready
If you suffer from hearing loss, driving is one of those scenarios where wearing 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:
- Every time you drive, wear your hearing aid: If you don’t wear it, it won’t help! So make certain you’re wearing your hearing aids every time you drive. This will also help your brain acclimate to the sounds your hearing aid sends your way.
- Ask us for a “driving” setting: We can program a car setting into your hearing aid if you do a lot of driving. The size of the inside of your vehicle and the fact that your passengers will be speaking to you from the side or rear will be the factors we will use to fine tune this “car setting” for smoother safer driving.
- 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 keep your batteries charged and ensure everything’s in working order.
Lots of people with hearing loss keep driving and hearing aids make the process safer and easier. Your drive will be enjoyable and your eyes will stay focused on the road if you establish safe driving habits.