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

Keep your eyes on the road. While this may be sound advice, how about your other senses? As an example, think about how much work your ears are doing when you’re driving. You’re using your ears to engage with other individuals in your vehicle, call your attention to important information appearing 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 have to stop driving because you’ve become overly dangerous. Inexperience and distracted driving are greater liabilities when it comes to safety. That being said, those with decreased hearing should take some special precautions to remain as safe as possible.

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

How your driving may be effected by hearing loss

Vision is the main sense utilized when driving. Even total hearing loss most likely won’t stop you from driving, but it very likely could change the way you drive. While driving you do utilize your hearing a great deal, after all. Some prevalent examples include:

  • Even though many vehicles are designed 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.
  • You can often 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.
  • Other drivers will commonly use their horns to make you aware of their presence. 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 error before dangerous things take place.
  • Audible alerts will sound when your vehicle is trying to alert you to something, such as an unbuckled seat belt or an open door.

All of these audio cues can help build your total situational awareness. As your hearing loss gets worse, 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 fine if you want to keep driving even after you have hearing loss! Here are a few ways you can be certain to remain safe when out on the road:

  • Pay extra attention to your mirrors: Even with sirens blaring, you may not hear that ambulance coming up behind you. So be vigilant about checking your mirrors. And keep the possible presence of emergency vehicles in mind.
  • Put away your phone: Well, this is good advice whether you have hearing loss or not. One of the leading causes of distracted driving, nowadays, is cellphones. And that goes double when you attempt to use them when you have hearing loss. Keeping your phone stowed can, simply, keep you and other people safer–and save your life.
  • Keep an eye on your dash lights.: Typically, when you need to pay attention to your instrument panel, your vehicle will ding or make some other sound. So you’ll want to make sure you glance down (when it’s safe) and make sure your turn signals aren’t still blinking, or your check engine light isn’t on.
  • Keep interior noise to a minimum: It will be challenging for your ears to distinguish noises when you’re going through hearing loss. When the wind is blowing and your passengers are speaking, it might become easy for your ears to get overstimulated, which can cause fatigue and distraction. So put up your window, turn down the music, and keep conversations to a minimum when driving.

Keeping your hearing aid road ready

Driving is one of those tasks 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:

  • Each time you drive, wear your hearing aid: It won’t help you if you don’t wear it! So make sure you’re using your hearing aids every time you drive. By doing this, your brain will have an easier time acclimating to the incoming signals.
  • Have us program a driving setting for you: If you intend to do a lot of driving, you can ask us to program a “car” setting on your hearing aid. The size of the inside of your vehicle and the fact that your passengers will be talking to you from the side or rear will be the variables we will use to fine tune this “car setting” for smoother safer driving.
  • 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 could even bring about a dangerous situation. So make sure everything is working properly and the batteries are charged.

Plenty of people with hearing loss keep driving and hearing aids make the process easier and safer. Developing good driving habits can help guarantee that your drive is pleasant and that your eyes stay safely on the road.

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