Whether you’re a new driver taking friends on a trip to the mall, an experienced driver on the way to work, or an older driver going to visit your kids, there are many precautions you’ll need to take to ensure your safety and that of others on the road. If you have hearing loss, regardless of age, you’re likely to experience others’ misconceptions about your ability to drive. According to a Swedish study on driving with hearing loss, people with diminished hearing tend to drive more carefully than those with regular hearing. In fact, forward-thinking businesses are encouraging hard of hearing drivers to join their teams by offering reasonable accommodations, demonstrating their confidence that hearing loss is no barrier to safe driving.
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.