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

Don’t take your eyes off the road. While this might be sound advice, what about your other senses? Your ears, for example, are doing a ton of work when you’re driving, helping you keep track of other vehicles, alerting you to info on your dashboard, and keeping you engaged with the other individuals in your vehicle.

So when you’re coping with hearing loss, how you drive can change. That doesn’t automatically mean you will need to quit driving because you’ve become overly dangerous. Distracted driving and inexperience are larger liabilities in terms of safety. That said, those with declining hearing should take some special precautions to stay as safe as possible.

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

How your driving may be effected by hearing loss

Vision is the principal sense used when driving. Even if you have complete hearing loss, your driving could change but you will still likely be able to drive. After all, you use your hearing a great deal while you’re driving. Here are some typical examples:

  • Even though most vehicles are designed to reduce road noise, your sense of hearing can raise your awareness of other vehicles. For instance, you will usually be able to hear a large truck coming toward you.
  • Your vehicle will often make audible noises and alerts in order to alert you to something (turn signals or unbuckled seat belts, for instance).
  • You can usually hear emergency vehicles before you see them.
  • If has any damage, your sense of hearing can let you know. If your motor is knocking or you have an exhaust leak, for instance.
  • If another driver needs to make you aware of their presence, they will often beep their horn. For instance, if you start drifting into another lane or you don’t go at a green light, a horn can clue you in to your error before dangerous things happen.

All of these audio cues can help build your overall situational awareness. You could begin 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.

Developing new safe driving habits

It’s no problem if you want to continue driving even after you have hearing loss! Here are a few ways you can be certain to remain safe while driving:

  • Minimize in-car noises: It will be hard for your ears to isolate noises when you’re going through hearing loss. It will be easy for your ears to become overstimulated and for you to get distracted if you have passengers loudly talking and music playing and wind in your ears. So put up your window, turn down the volume, and keep conversations to a minimum when 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 generally try to keep an elevated awareness for emergency vehicles.
  • Put your phone away: Even if your hearing is good, this one is still smart advice. Phones are among the leading causes of distraction on the road these days. And that goes double when you try to use them with hearing loss. Keeping your phone stowed can, simply, keep you and other people safer–and save your life.
  • Don’t ignore your instrument panel: 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 you don’t have a check engine light on.

How to keep your hearing aid driving ready

If you have hearing loss, driving is one of those situations where having a hearing aid can really come in handy. And there are a few ways you can be certain your hearing aid is a real asset when you’re driving:

  • Use your hearing aid each time you drive: It won’t help you if you don’t use it! So each time you drive, make sure you’re wearing your hearing aids. This will also help your brain get used to the sounds your hearing aid sends your way.
  • Keep your hearing aids clean, charged, and updated: When you’re half way to the store, the last thing you need is for your battery to quit. That can be distracting and possibly even dangerous. So make sure everything is working properly and the batteries are charged.
  • Ask us for a “driving” setting: We can program a car setting into your hearing aid if you drive a lot. The size of the interior 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 optimize this “car setting” for smoother safer driving.

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

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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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