Top Ten Tips for Driving with Hearing Loss

While your vision is undeniably your most important driving sense, your hearing plays a large part in how you interact with the world, even inside your car. If you have hearing loss, here's what you need to know before hitting the road.

Nearly half of the population over the age of 65 has some form of hearing loss, and a fair share of them still drive themselves and their loved ones to and from errands and work. Hearing loss should not stop them from driving a car, but they need to take extra measures to protect themselves and the other people in the vehicle.

Whether they wear hearing aids or not, there are ways that they can boost awareness and improve their safety while on the road. While some of these might add a step to their commute routine, they can prevent fatal or expensive accidents.

It is recommended that drivers with moderate to profound hearing loss get hearing aids, especially if they regularly drive themselves and others. However, even mild hearing loss can cause problems while driving. Here are some tips to help you stay aware of emergency sirens, honking, and other sounds on the road.

• Always wear your hearing aids while driving. If you have them, it’s extremely important that you wear them. They can be the only thing standing between you and an accident. If you don’t already have hearing aids, consider looking into them. They can do more than help you while driving.

• Make sure your hearing aids are charged before heading out. The last thing you want is a dead battery on the road. Make sure you have spare batteries on hand. If you have rechargeable hearing aids, make sure they’re freshly charged, and bring your portable charger along for the ride.

• Avoid listening to music on the road. Music can distract anyone, regardless of their hearing. However, those with hearing loss are more likely to find themselves drowning in sound, especially in tight spaces like cars. Turn down the radio, or turn it off completely.

• Get a bigger rearview mirror. In some states, those with hearing loss are required to have a large rearview mirror. While this doesn’t completely eliminate blind spots, it can give you a sorely-needed range expansion.

• Make sure your GPS is loud and clear. Looking at your GPS or phone too much can impact your driving, and those with hearing loss need to keep their eyes on the road as much as possible. Make sure your GPS uses a clear, easy-to-understand voice, so you won’t have to keep looking at it for directions.

• Tell passengers to quieten down. Many people like to talk in the car, but this can be distracting and loud. Politely ask everyone to keep their voices down, and avoid getting into conversations while driving. If you’re driving with kids, make sure they understand that low volume is needed for their safety.

• Get your vision and hearing checked often. Your vision is your primary sense while driving, and you rely on it a lot more when you have hearing loss. If you have glasses or contacts, make sure your prescription is up to date at all times. Your hearing is also important, so make sure you monitor any changes with regular hearing tests.

• Close the car window. Wind and water are hearing aids’ ultimate enemies. Make sure all the windows are closed to prevent wind noise while you’re trying to drive. Otherwise, it might drown out everything else you’re trying to hear.

• Get rid of distractions. No-one should drive while eating, putting on make-up, or looking at their phone, but this is especially important for hard-of-hearing drivers. If you need to use your phone or do something intensive, pull over and get it done before continuing your journey.

• In the event of an emergency or police stop, let them know you have hearing loss. You want to avoid misunderstandings in these situations, so make sure one of the first things you tell them is that you have hearing loss. This will ensure that you communicate with emergency services and police officers safely and understandably.

There are other things you can do to prevent accidents, including driving with a responsible passenger and purchasing cars with audio/visual cues for various circumstances. However, these are the top 10 tips that you should follow at all times. Even if they seem like a hassle, they can save your life and the lives of those around you.

Motorsports and hearing loss

If you are a motor enthusiast or fan of cars, you might have concerns about attending events. However, you shouldn’t let hearing loss stop you from enjoying your hobbies. Like concerts and other loud festivals, motor races or car shows can be loud places. Revving engines and other automobile noises can seriously harm your hearing and overwhelm your hearing aids. Regardless of whether or not you have hearing loss, it’s vital that you take measures to protect your ears.

• If you have hearing loss, make sure to turn down the volume on your hearing aids. This can prevent any loud noises from overwhelming you or damaging your hearing further.

• If the event is going to be particularly loud, consider taking out your hearing aids and replacing them with earbuds. All guests should wear earbuds, especially if they regularly attend loud events like car shows and races.

• After the show, take out your hearing aids and enjoy the quiet. It’s important that you give your ears a rest after loud activities like races, festivals, and concerts.

• If you are going to be driving at any point, take all the proper precautions to make sure that you and other drivers will be safe.

If you found this article helpful, there’s a lot more for you to learn. Signia regularly publishes articles about audiology, ear health, and hearing aids. Whether you wear hearing aids yourself, know someone who does, or just want to learn more about hearing loss and how your ears work, consider subscribing to the newsletter for regular updates.

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