Keep your eyes on the road. Naturally, it’s good advice, but it doesn’t say much about your other senses. For example, think about the amount of work your ears are doing when you’re driving. You’re using your ears to connect with other individuals in your vehicle, call your attention to important info coming up on your dashboard, and help you track other vehicles.
So when you’re coping with hearing impairment, how you drive can vary. That doesn’t automatically mean you will need to stop driving because you’ve become overly dangerous. Inexperience and distracted driving are greater liabilities in terms of safety. That said, those with diminished hearing need to take some specific precautions to stay as safe as possible.
Establishing good driving habits can go a long way to help you drive safely even if hearing loss might be affecting your situational awareness.
How hearing loss could be impacting your driving
Vision is the main sense utilized when driving. Even complete hearing loss most likely won’t keep you from driving, but it very likely might change how you drive. After all, you use your hearing a lot while you’re driving. Some prevalent examples include:
- Your vehicle will often make audible noises 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 often beep their horn. For instance, if you begin to drift into another lane or you don’t go at a green light, a horn can clue you in to your mistake before bad things take place.
- You can usually hear emergency vehicles before you see them.
- If there is any damage to your vehicle, your sense of hearing can let you know. For example, if you run over something in the road or a rock hits your windshield.
- Even though many vehicles are engineered to reduce road noise, your sense of hearing can raise your awareness of other vehicles. You will usually be able to hear an oncoming truck, for instance.
By using all of these audio cues, you will be building better situational awareness. You could begin to miss more and more of these audio cues as your hearing loss advances. But there are measures you can take to ensure you stay as safe as possible while driving.
New safe driving habits to develop
If you’re experiencing hearing loss and you want to keep driving, that’s fine! Stay safe out on the road using these tips:
- 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 be vigilant about checking your mirrors. And generally try to keep an elevated awareness for emergency vehicles.
- Minimize in-car noises: Hearing loss will make it difficult for your ears to differentiate sounds. It could be easy for your ears to get overwhelmed and for you to get distracted if you have passengers loudly speaking and music playing and wind blowing in your ears. So roll up your window, turn down the music, and keep the talking to a minimum when driving.
- Keep your phone stowed: Even if your hearing is strong, this one is still smart advice. Phones are among the highest causes of distraction on the road these days. And that goes double when you attempt 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 dash lights.: Typically, your car will beep or ding when you need to look at your instrument panel for some reason. So you’ll want to make sure you glance down (when it’s safe) and make sure your turn signals aren’t still on, or your check engine light isn’t on.
How to keep your hearing aid driving ready
Driving is one of those tasks that, if you have hearing loss, 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: We can program a car setting into your hearing aid if you do a lot of driving. This setting will be adjusted for the inside space and setup of your vehicle (where, normally, your conversation partner is beside and not in front of you), making your drive smoother and more pleasant.
- 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 die. That can distract you and could even bring about a dangerous situation. So make sure everything is in good working order and the batteries are charged.
- Wear your hearing aid every time you drive: If you don’t use 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.
Plenty of individuals with hearing loss keep driving and hearing aids make the process safer and easier. Your drive will be pleasant and your eyes will stay focused on the road if you establish safe driving habits.