How Can Your Driving Habits be Impacted by Hearing Loss?

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

Keep your eyes on the road. Obviously, it’s good advice, but it doesn’t speak to your other senses. As an example, think about the amount of work your ears are doing while driving. You’re using your ears to engage with other individuals in your vehicle, alert you to important information appearing on your dashboard, and help you keep track of other vehicles.

So when you experience hearing impairment, how you drive can vary. That’s not to say your driving will become excessively dangerous. When it comes to safety, inexperience and distracted driving are far bigger liabilities. That being said, those with declining hearing should take some special precautions to remain as safe as possible.

Developing good driving habits can go a long way to help you drive safely even if hearing loss might be influencing your situational awareness.

How your driving might be impacted by hearing loss

Generally, 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 how you drive. While driving you do utilize your hearing a great deal, after all. Some prevalent examples include:

  • Your vehicle will often make audible noises and alerts in order to make you aware of something (turn signals or unbuckled seat belts, for example).
  • Your hearing will often alert you when your car is damaged in some way. For instance, if you run over an obstruction in the road or a rock hits your windshield.
  • If another driver needs to make you aware of their presence, they will usually beep their horn. For instance, if you begin to drift into another lane or you don’t go at a green light, a horn can make you aware of your error before dangerous things happen.
  • Emergency vehicles can often be heard before they can be seen.
  • Even though many vehicles are designed to decrease road noise, your sense of hearing can raise your awareness of other vehicles. For example, you will normally be able to hear a large truck coming your way.

All of these audio cues can help build your overall situational awareness. You may start to miss more and more of these audio cues as your hearing loss advances. But you can practice some positive measures to keep your driving as safe as possible.

Developing new safe driving habits

If you’re experiencing hearing loss and you want to keep driving, that’s okay! Here are a few ways you can be certain to remain safe while driving:

  • Put away your phone: Well, this is good advice whether you suffer from hearing loss or not. 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: usually, when you need to pay attention to your instrument panel, your vehicle will beep or make some other sound. So regularly glance down to see if any dash lights are on.
  • Keep interior noise to a minimum: Hearing loss will make it hard for your ears to differentiate noises. When the wind is blowing and your passengers are talking, it could become easy for your ears to get overstimulated, which can cause fatigue and distraction. So put up your window, turn down the volume, and keep conversations to a minimum while driving.
  • 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 make sure you aren’t neglecting your mirrors. And keep the possible presence of emergency vehicles in mind.

How to keep your hearing aid driving ready

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

  • Each time you drive, wear your hearing aid: It’s not going to help you if you don’t use it! So every time you drive, make certain you’re wearing your hearing aids. This will also help your brain acclimate 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. This setting will be adjusted for the interior space and configuration of your vehicle (where, normally, your conversation partner is beside and not in front of you), making your drive smoother and more enjoyable.
  • Keep your hearing aids clean, charged, and updated: You don’t want your hearing aid batteries to die right when you’re driving to the store. That can distract you and may even create a dangerous situation. So make certain everything is in good working order and the batteries are charged.

Plenty of individuals 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 develop 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.