Many of us take for granted the important role that hearing plays while we drive. Coupled with our vision, our hearing alerts us to the activity all around us, such as urgent oncoming of emergency vehicles or the sudden movement in traffic.
In fact, in many driving situations, we hear important things before we even see them like the startling honk from another driver, a car travelling in our blind spots or the powerful engine of a motorcycle maneuvering through lanes.
Hearing impairment can significantly impact your ability to drive. It is a scary realization for those who do not want to give up their driving privileges and those with jobs heavily dependent on the ability to drive. This is one of the reasons why caring for our hearing health is so important.
If you are hard of hearing, these tips can help you become more observant, and thus perhaps an even safer driver than the average hearing person.
Multitasking is a no-go
We tend to do everything at once these days, even while driving. Touching up your hair or eating breakfast while behind the wheel is dangerous regardless of hearing ability. It’s important to keep your eyes on the road and focus on driving, so you remain alert and ready to react to any sudden changes in road conditions or actions taken by other drivers. And definitely avoid additional distractions like texting while driving — not only is it dangerous it is also illegal in many states.
Visual cues are your friends
If you have hearing loss, you likely rely more heavily on your vision to navigate safely. Paying close attention to visual cues like road signs and traffic lights can make driving easier. Hearing loss can make it difficult to identify the distance between moving vehicles by sound alone, so frequent checks using your side and rear-view mirrors can improve safety on the road.
Keep excess noise to a minimum
Blasting loud music in a car is dangerous for your ears and your concentration. When you already have hearing loss noise distraction makes it even harder to catch external alerts like honking horns or ambulance sirens. You may also want to keep your windows rolled up to avoid excessive wind noise while driving at higher rates of speed (e.g., on the highway).
Check your ears, and your hearing aids
We recommend regular checkups for your ears and your hearing aids, so your hearing care professional can ensure that everything is fine-tuned and in the best possible working order. Many modern hearing aids are highly advanced with wireless and Bluetooth capabilities that provide many hands-free options, which can be essential to drivers with hearing loss.
Hearing loss alone doesn’t make you a high-risk driver, so long as you proceed using reasonable caution and good common sense.