How Can Your Driving Habits be Impacted by Hearing Impairment?

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

Keep your eyes on the road. While this may be sound advice, what about your other senses? For example, think about 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, alert you to important information appearing on your dashboard, and help you monitor other vehicles.

So how you drive can change if you’re going through hearing impairment. That doesn’t necessarily mean you will need to quit driving because you’ve become excessively dangerous. Inexperience and distracted driving are larger liabilities in terms of safety. That being said, those with decreased hearing need to take some special precautions to remain as safe as possible.

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

How your driving might be effected by hearing loss

Vision is the primary sense used when driving. Even total hearing loss most likely won’t keep you from driving, but it very likely may change how you drive. After all, you use your hearing a lot while you’re driving. Some typical 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 another motorist needs to make you aware of their presence, they will often use their horn. If you fail to notice the light turn to green, for instance, or you start to drift into the other lane, a horn can alert you before it becomes an issue.
  • Your hearing will often alert you when your car is damaged in some way. If your engine is rapping or you have an exhaust leak, for instance.
  • Emergency vehicles can usually be heard before they can be seen.
  • Your sense of hearing can help you have better awareness of other vehicles near you. You will usually be able to hear an oncoming truck, for example.

By utilizing all of these audio cues, you will be developing better situational awareness. As your hearing loss progresses, you might be missing more and more of these cues. 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 okay! Here are a few ways you can be certain to stay safe when out on the road:

  • Keep interior noise to a minimum: Hearing loss is going to make it hard for your ears to separate noises. When the wind is blowing and your passenger is speaking, it may become easy for your ears to grow overwhelmed, which can cause fatigue and distraction. So roll up your window, turn down the volume, and keep the talking to a minimum while driving.
  • Pay extra attention to your mirrors: 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 out of reach: Even if your hearing is strong, this one is still smart advice. Phones are among the highest causes of distraction on the road these days. And that goes double when you attempt to use them with hearing loss. You will simply be safer when you put your phone away and it could save your life.
  • Keep an eye on your instrument panel: Typically, when you need to give attention to your instrument panel, your vehicle will ding or make some other sound. So periodically look down to see if any dash lights are on.

How to keep your hearing aid driving ready

If you have hearing loss, driving is one of those scenarios 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:

  • Get the most recent updates and keep your hearing aid charged and clean: You don’t want your hearing aid batteries to quit right in the middle of a drive to the store. That can be distracting and perhaps even dangerous. So make sure everything is working properly and the batteries are charged.
  • Have us dial in a driving setting for you: If you intend to do a fair amount of driving, you can ask us to program a “car” setting on your hearing aid. This setting will be calibrated for the interior space and setup of your vehicle (where, usually, your conversation partner 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: If you don’t wear it, it won’t help! So every 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 into your ears.

Lots of people with hearing loss continue to drive and hearing aids make the process safer and easier. Your drive will be enjoyable and your eyes will remain focused on the road if you establish safe driving habits.

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.