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Hearing is crucial to how we interact with the world - even when driving. If you have hearing loss, here are some tips to consider before hitting the road.
2019-08-21

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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.

While hearing loss shouldn’t stop you from driving a car, there are certain measures you can take to protect yourself, other people in your vehicle, and those in other cars.

Whether you wear hearing aids or not, there are ways to boost awareness and improve your safety while on the road. Some of these might add a step to your daily routine, but they can help to prevent serious accidents.

It is recommended that drivers with moderate to profound hearing loss get hearing aids, especially if you regularly drive yourself 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.

1. Always wear your hearing aids while driving. If you have hearing aids, 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 getting a pair. They can do more than help you while driving.

2. 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.

3. Avoid listening to music on the road. Music can distract anyone, regardless of their hearing ability. 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.

4. Get a bigger rear-view mirror. In some states, those with hearing loss are required to have a large rear-view mirror to raise your situational awareness. While this doesn’t completely eliminate blind spots, it can greatly expand your range of vision.

5. Make sure your GPS is loud and clear. Looking at your GPS or directions on your phone too much can impact your driving. 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 can rely on the audio directions more than having to look at the screen.

6. Tell passengers to quiet 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.

7. 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.

8. Close the car window. Noise from the wind can impact your ability to hear. Make sure all the windows are closed to prevent wind noise while you’re driving. Otherwise, it might drown out everything else you’re trying to hear.

9. 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 that requires your complete attention, pull over and get it done before continuing your journey.

10. 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

The potential dangers of hearing loss and cars doesn’t just happen if you’re driving.

If you enjoy car racing or other motorsports, you might have concerns about attending such 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 earplugs. All guests should wear earplugs, 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.