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

Keep your eyes on the road. Of course, it’s good advice, but it doesn’t say much about your other senses. Your ears, for example, are doing a ton of work while you’re driving, helping you keep track of other vehicles, calling your attention to information on your dashboard, and keeping you engaged with the other passengers in your vehicle.

So the way you drive can change if you’re going through hearing loss. That’s not to say your driving will become prohibitively dangerous. Distracted driving and inexperience are greater liabilities in terms of safety. Still, some specific precautions should be taken by individuals with hearing loss to ensure they continue driving as safely as possible.

Hearing loss can impact your situational awareness but acquiring good driving habits can help you stay safe while driving.

How your driving could be impacted 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 complete hearing loss most likely won’t keep you from driving, but it very likely may change how you drive. While driving you do utilize your hearing a lot, after all. Some prevalent examples include:

  • Your vehicle will {often\sometimes} make audible sounds and alerts in order to make you aware of something (turn signals or unbuckled seat belts, for instance).
  • If has any damage, your sense of hearing can let you know. For example, if you run over something in the road or a rock hits your windshield.
  • Your sense of hearing can help you have a better sense of other vehicles near you. You will typically be able to hear an oncoming truck, for example.
  • Emergency vehicles can often be heard before they can be seen.
  • Other drivers will often use 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.

All of these audio cues can help build your total situational awareness. You may start to miss more and more of these audio cues as your hearing loss advances. But there are measures you can take to ensure you still remain as safe as you can while driving.

Practicing new safe driving habits

It’s fine if you want to continue driving even after developing hearing loss! Here are some ways you can make sure to remain safe when out on the road:

  • 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 noises. It will 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 put up your window, turn down the volume, and keep the talking to a minimum while driving.
  • Keep your phone stowed: Even if your hearing is good, this one is still smart advice. One of the leading causes of distracted driving, nowadays, is cellphones. And that goes double when you try to use them with hearing loss. You will simply be safer when you put away your phone and it could save your life.
  • Keep an eye on your dash lights.: Normally, when you need to pay attention to your instrument panel, your vehicle will beep or make some other sound. So you’ll want to be sure to glance down (when it’s safe) and make sure your turn signals aren’t still on, or you don’t have a check engine light on.

How to keep your hearing aid ready for driving

Driving is one of those activities that, if you have hearing loss, a hearing aid can really help. And there are a few ways you can make sure your hearing aid is a real advantage when you’re driving:

  • Each time you drive, wear your hearing aid: It’s not going to help you if you don’t wear it! So make sure you’re using your hearing aids every time you get behind the wheel. This will also help your brain get used to the signals your hearing aid sends into your ears.
  • Have us dial in a driving setting for you: 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 factors we will use to optimize this “car setting” for smoother safer driving.
  • Get the most recent updates and keep your hearing aid clean and charged: When you’re half way to the store, the last thing you want is for your battery to quit. That can distract you and may even create a dangerous situation. So keep your batteries charged and make sure everything’s working properly.

Plenty of people with hearing loss keep driving and hearing aids make the process easier and safer. Your drive will be pleasant and your eyes will stay focused on the road if you establish safe driving habits.

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