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Keep your eyes on the road. While this may be sound advice, how about your other senses? For example, think about how much 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 keep track of other vehicles.

So when you experience hearing loss, how you drive can change. That’s not to say your driving will become excessively dangerous. Distracted driving and inexperience are bigger liabilities when it comes to safety. That being said, those with decreased hearing should take some special precautions to stay as safe as possible.

Hearing loss can impact your situational awareness but acquiring safe driving habits can help you remain a safe driver.

How hearing loss may be impacting your driving

In general, driving is a vision-centric task (at least, if it’s not a vision-centric activity, something has gone wrong). Even if you have total hearing loss, your driving could change but you will still probably be able to drive. While driving you do utilize your hearing a great deal, after all. Some prevalent examples include:

  • Your hearing will often alert you when your car has some kind of malfunction. If your engine is rapping or you have an exhaust leak, for example.
  • If another driver needs to make you aware of their presence, they will often use their horn. If you fail to notice 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 an issue.
  • Your vehicle will {often\sometimes} make audible noises and alerts in order to make you aware of something (turn signals or unbuckled seat belts, for instance).
  • Even though most vehicles are designed to decrease road noise, your sense of hearing can raise your awareness of other vehicles. For example, you will usually be able to hear a large truck coming toward you.
  • You can often hear emergency vehicles before you see them.

By using all of these audio cues, you will be building stronger situational awareness. As your hearing loss advances, you may miss more and more of these cues. But you can take some positive steps to keep your driving as safe as possible.

Developing new safe driving habits

It’s no problem if you want to keep driving even after developing hearing loss! Stay safe out on the road using these tips:

  • 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 generally try to keep an elevated awareness for emergency vehicles.
  • Minimize in-car noises: Hearing loss is going to make it hard for your ears to differentiate 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 in your ears. So roll up your window, turn down the music, and keep the talking to a minimum when driving.
  • Keep your phone out of reach: Well, this is good advice whether you have hearing loss or not. Phones are among the leading causes of distraction on the road these days. And when you have hearing loss that distraction is at least doubled. You will simply be safer when you put your phone away and it could save your life.
  • Don’t neglect your dash lights: Normally, your car will ding or beep when you need to look at your instrument panel for something. So you’ll want to be sure to glance down (when it’s safe) and confirm your turn signals aren’t still blinking, or your check engine light isn’t on.

Keeping your hearing aid ready for the road

Driving is one of those tasks that, if you are dealing with 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 advantage when you’re driving:

  • Ask us for a “driving” setting: If you intend to do a lot 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 configuration of your vehicle (where, normally, your passenger is to your side and not in front of you), making your drive easier and more pleasant.
  • Wear your hearing aid each time you drive: If you don’t use it, it can’t help! So make certain you’re wearing your hearing aids every time you drive. This will also help your brain acclimate to the signals your hearing aid sends into your ears.
  • 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 quit. That can be distracting and possibly even dangerous. So make certain everything is working properly and the batteries are charged.

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 stay focused on the road if you establish safe driving habits.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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