How Can Hearing Impairment Affect Driving Habits?

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

Don’t take your eyes off the road. Of course, it’s good advice, but it doesn’t say much about your other senses. As an example, consider the amount of work your ears are doing when you’re driving. You’re using your ears to engage with other people in your vehicle, call your attention to important info appearing on your dashboard, and help you keep track of other vehicles.

So when you experience hearing impairment, how you drive can vary. That doesn’t necessarily mean you will have to stop driving because you’ve become overly dangerous. When it comes to safety, inexperience and distracted driving are much greater liabilities. That being said, those with diminished hearing should take some specific precautions to remain as safe as possible.

Developing good driving habits can go a long way to help you remain a safe driver even if hearing loss may be affecting your situational awareness.

How your driving may 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 full-blown hearing loss most likely won’t stop you from driving, but it very likely may change the way you drive. While driving you do use your hearing a lot, after all. Some typical examples include:

  • Audible alerts will sound when your car is attempting to alert you to something, like an unbuckled seat belt or an open door.
  • You can often hear emergency vehicles before you see them.
  • Your sense of hearing can help you have a better sense of other vehicles around you. You will usually be able to hear an oncoming truck, for instance.
  • Other motorists will often honk their horns to alert you to their presence. For instance, 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.
  • If there is any damage to your vehicle, your sense of hearing can let you know. If your motor is rapping or you have an exhaust leak, for example.

By utilizing all of these audio cues, you will be developing stronger situational awareness. You could start to miss more and more of these audio cues as your hearing loss progresses. But there are steps you can take to ensure you still remain as safe as possible while driving.

New safe driving habits to develop

If you’re dealing with hearing loss and you want to continue to drive, that’s fine! 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 be vigilant about checking your mirrors. And generally try to keep an elevated awareness for emergency vehicles.
  • Keep your phone stowed: Even if your hearing is good, this one is still good advice. 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 away your phone and it could save your life.
  • Don’t disregard your instrument panel: 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 confirm your turn signals aren’t still on, or your check engine light isn’t on.
  • Keep interior noise to a minimum: Hearing loss is going to make it difficult for your ears to differentiate noises. When the wind is blowing and your passengers are talking, it might become easy for your ears to get overstimulated, which can cause you to become distracted and tired. So put up your window, turn down the music, and keep conversations to a minimum when driving.

Keeping your hearing aid ready for the road

If you suffer from hearing loss, driving is one of those scenarios where having 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:

  • 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 be distracting and possibly even dangerous. So make sure everything is working properly and the batteries are charged.
  • Every time you drive, wear your hearing aid: If you don’t use it, it won’t help! So make sure you’re using your hearing aids every time you drive. This will also help your brain get used to the signals your hearing aid sends your way.
  • 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 speaking to you from the side or rear will be the factors we will use to optimize this “car setting” for easier safer driving.

Hearing loss doesn’t mean driving is an issue, particularly with hearing aids which make it safer and easier. Developing safer driving habits can help guarantee that your drive is enjoyable 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 a personalized free hearing test and hearing loss consultation, call today to set up an appointment.