Don’t take your eyes off the road. Naturally, it’s good advice, but it doesn’t say much about your other senses. Your ears, for example, are doing tons of work when you’re driving, helping you track other vehicles, alerting you to information on your dashboard, and keeping you engaged with the other individuals in your vehicle.
So when you experience hearing loss, the way you drive can vary. That doesn’t necessarily mean you will need to stop driving because you’ve become excessively dangerous. When it comes to safety, inexperience and distracted driving are far bigger liabilities. That said, those with decreased hearing should take some special safeguards to stay as safe as possible.
Developing good driving habits can go a long way to help you remain a safe driver even if hearing loss may be affecting your situational awareness.
How hearing loss could be affecting your driving
Vision is the primary sense used when driving. Even complete hearing loss probably won’t keep you from driving, but it very likely could change the way you drive. While driving you do utilize your hearing a lot, after all. Some prevalent examples include:
- Other motorists will often use their horns to alert you to their presence. If you fail to see the light turn to green, for example, or you begin to drift into the other lane, a horn can alert you before it becomes an issue.
- Audible alerts will sound when your vehicle is trying to alert you to something, such as an unbuckled seat belt or an open door.
- You can often hear emergency vehicles before you can see them.
- Your hearing will often alert you when your car has some kind of malfunction. For example, if you run over an obstruction in the road or a rock hits your windshield.
- Even though many vehicles are designed to reduce road noise, your sense of hearing can raise your awareness of other vehicles. You will typically be able to hear an oncoming truck, for instance.
All of these audio cues can help develop your overall situational awareness. As your hearing loss gets worse, you might be missing more and more of these cues. But there are measures you can take to ensure you still remain as safe as you can while driving.
New safe driving habits to develop
It’s no problem if you want to keep driving even after you have hearing loss! Here are some ways you can be certain to stay safe while driving:
- Check your mirrors more often: 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.
- Keep the noise inside your car to a minimum: Hearing loss will make it difficult for your ears to separate noises. It will 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 blowing in your ears. So when you’re driving, it’s a good idea to lower the volume on your radio, keep conversation to a minimum, and put up your windows.
- Keep your phone out of reach: Even if your hearing is strong, this one is still smart advice. Today, one of the leading causes of distraction is a cellphone. And with hearing loss that distraction is at least twice as much. You will simply be safer when you put away your phone and it could save your life.
- Don’t neglect your instrument panel: Usually, your car will ding or beep when you need to look at your instrument panel for something. So periodically glance down to see if any dash lights are on.
How to keep your hearing aid ready for driving
Driving is one of those activities that, if you have hearing loss, a hearing aid can really be helpful. And there are a few ways you can make sure your hearing aid is a real asset when you’re driving:
- Have us dial in a driving setting for you: If you intend to do a lot of driving, you can ask us to give you a “car” setting on your hearing aid. This setting will be calibrated for the inside space and setup of your vehicle (where, usually, your passenger is to your side and not in front of you), making your drive smoother and more pleasant.
- Every time you drive, wear your hearing aid: It’s not going to help you if you don’t use it! So make sure you’re using your hearing aids each time you drive. This will also help your brain acclimate to the signals your hearing aid sends into your ears.
- Get the most recent updates and keep your hearing aid clean and charged: You don’t want your hearing aid batteries to quit right in the middle of a drive to the store. That can distract you and may even lead to a dangerous situation. So keep your batteries charged and ensure everything’s working properly.
Lots of people with hearing loss continue to drive and hearing aids make the process safer and easier. Establishing safer driving habits can help guarantee that your drive is enjoyable and that your eyes remain safely on the road.