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

Don’t take your eyes off the road. Naturally, it’s good advice, but it doesn’t say much about your other senses. Your ears, for example, are doing a lot of work when you’re driving, helping you track other vehicles, calling your attention to information on your dashboard, and keeping you engaged with the other people in your vehicle.

So when you experience hearing impairment, how you drive can vary. That’s not to say your driving will become excessively dangerous. Distracted driving and inexperience are larger liabilities in terms of safety. Still, some specific precautions should be taken by individuals with hearing loss to ensure they keep driving as safely as possible.

Hearing loss can affect your situational awareness but developing safe driving habits can help you stay safe while driving.

How hearing loss may be affecting your driving

In general, driving is a vision-centric task (at least, if it’s not a vision-centric activity, something’s wrong). Even complete hearing loss probably won’t stop you from driving, but it very likely might change how you drive. While driving you do use your hearing a great deal, after all. Some prevalent examples include:

  • Emergency vehicles can often be heard before they can be seen.
  • Your hearing will usually alert you when your car has some kind of malfunction. If your engine is knocking or you have an exhaust leak, for instance.
  • Your sense of hearing can help you have a better sense of other vehicles around you. For example, you will normally be able to hear a large truck coming toward you.
  • Your vehicle will often make audible sounds and alerts in order to make you aware of something (turn signals or unbuckled seat belts, for instance).
  • Other motorists will often use their horns to alert you to their presence. If you fail to notice the light turn to green, for instance, or you start to wander into the other lane, a horn can alert you before it becomes a problem.

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

New safe driving habits to develop

If you’re experiencing hearing loss and you want to continue to drive, that’s okay! Here are a few ways you can be certain to stay safe when out on the road:

  • Keep your phone stowed: Well, this is good advice whether you have hearing loss or not. Today, one of the leading causes of distraction is a cellphone. And when you have hearing loss that distraction is at least twice as much. Keeping your phone stowed can, simply, keep you and other people safer–and save your life.
  • Keep an eye on your dash lights.: usually, when you need to give attention to your instrument panel, your vehicle will beep or make some other sound. So periodically look down to see if any dash lights are on.
  • Pay extra attention to your mirrors: 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 keep the possible presence of emergency vehicles in mind.
  • Keep interior noise to a minimum: It will be hard for your ears to distinguish noises when you have hearing loss. It could be easy for your ears to become overwhelmed and for you to get distracted if you have passengers loudly speaking and music playing and wind blowing in your ears. So when you’re driving, it’s a good idea to lower the volume on your radio, keep discussions to a minimum, and roll up your windows.

Keeping your hearing aid road ready

Driving is one of those activities that, if you are dealing with hearing loss, a hearing aid can really help. And there are several ways you can be certain your hearing aid is a real asset when you’re driving:

  • Get the most recent updates and keep your hearing aid charged and clean: When you’re on your way to the store, the last thing you need is for your battery to quit. That can distract you and could even bring about a dangerous situation. So make certain everything is in good working order and the batteries are charged.
  • Ask us for a “driving” setting: We can program a car setting into your hearing aid if you do a lot of driving. This setting will be calibrated for the interior 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 enjoyable.
  • Each time you drive, wear your hearing aid: It won’t help you if you don’t wear it! So be sure you’re wearing your hearing aids each time you get behind the wheel. By doing this, your brain will have an easier time acclimating to the incoming sounds.

Hearing loss doesn’t mean driving is an issue, especially with hearing aids which make it safer and easier. Developing good driving habits can help ensure that your drive is pleasant and that your eyes remain 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.