Woman with dark hair wearing a hearing aid happily driver her car

Keep your eyes on the road. While this might be sound advice, how about your other senses? For example, think about the amount of work your ears are doing while driving. You’re using your ears to engage with other individuals in your vehicle, call your attention to important info appearing on your dashboard, and help you keep track of other vehicles.

So how you drive can change if you’re experiencing hearing loss. That’s not to say your driving will come to be excessively dangerous. With regards to safety, inexperience and distracted driving are much bigger liabilities. That being said, those with diminished hearing should take some special safeguards to stay as safe as possible.

Developing good driving habits can go a long way to help you drive safely even if hearing impairment might be influencing your situational awareness.

How your driving may be effected by hearing loss

In general, driving is a vision-centered activity (at least, if it’s not a vision-centric activity, something’s wrong). Even if you have complete hearing loss, your driving may change but you will still probably be able to drive. While driving you do utilize your hearing a lot, after all. Here are some prevalent examples:

  • Audible alerts will sound when your car is trying to alert you to something, like an unbuckled seat belt or an open door.
  • Your hearing will usually alert you when your car is damaged in some way. For instance, if you run over something in the road or a rock hits your windshield.
  • Emergency vehicles can often be heard before they can be seen.
  • Even though most vehicles are engineered to decrease road noise, your sense of hearing can raise your awareness of other vehicles. You will usually be able to hear an oncoming truck, for example.
  • Other drivers will commonly honk their horns to make you aware of their presence. For example, if you start drifting into another lane or you don’t go at a green light, a horn can make you aware of your mistake before dangerous things happen.

By using all of these audio cues, you will be building better situational awareness. You could start to miss more and more of these audio cues as your hearing loss progresses. But there are steps 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 okay! Here are some ways you can be certain to stay safe while driving:

  • Keep the noise inside your car to a minimum: 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 in your ears. So roll up your window, turn down the volume, and keep the talking to a minimum while driving.
  • Put your phone away: Well, this is wise advice whether you have hearing loss or not. Phones are among the leading causes of distraction on the road these days. And that doubles when you attempt to use them with hearing loss. Keeping your phone stashed can, simply, keep you and other people safer–and save your life.
  • Don’t disregard your dash lights: Typically, your car will ding or beep when you need to look at your instrument panel for some reason. So regularly glance down to see if any dash lights are on.
  • Check your mirrors more often: Even with sirens blaring, you may not hear that ambulance coming up behind you. So make sure you aren’t neglecting your mirrors. And keep the possible presence of emergency vehicles in mind.

How to keep your hearing aid ready for driving

If you suffer from hearing loss, driving is one of those scenarios 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:

  • Have us program a driving setting for you: We can program a car setting into your hearing aid if you drive a lot. 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 variables we will use to fine tune this “car setting” for smoother safer driving.
  • Wear your hearing aid every time you drive: If you don’t use it, it won’t help! So each time you drive, make certain you’re wearing your hearing aids. By doing this, your brain will have an easier time acclimating to the incoming sounds.
  • Keep your hearing aids clean, updated, and charged: When you’re half way to the store, the last thing you want is for your battery to die. That can be distracting and perhaps even dangerous. So keep your batteries charged and make sure everything’s working properly.

Hearing loss doesn’t mean driving is an issue, particularly with hearing aids which make it safer and easier. Your drive will be enjoyable and your eyes will remain focused on the road if you develop safe driving habits.

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