When driving, we unquestionably rely on our sense of sight to navigate. We also utilize and rely on our ability to hear more than we probably think. Hearing is another major way you absorb, process, and respond to information and stimuli. This helps people interpret and make sense of everything around us. While driving, the ability to hear effectively helps you detect emergencies, car issues, and hazards which allows you to drive as safely and responsibly as possible.
For people who experience hearing loss and wear hearing aids, it is important to be equipped with useful information to best support you while driving. There are extra measures you can take and tips to be aware of to ensure your safety and the safety of others.
1. Give Yourself Time
There is an adjustment period with hearing aids. It may take some time to feel completely comfortable wearing this new device in or behind your ear. Also, you will be able to hear sounds you likely have not heard in some time including hearing more background noises and faint sounds. Your brain needs to become refamiliarized with hearing, interpreting, and processing these sounds and this takes time. Hearing all of these new sounds may be overwhelming at first and things may sound too loud. Before driving, you want to make sure that you have fully adjusted to using your hearing aids.
2. Always Wear While Driving
It is important to always wear your hearing aids while driving! This may seem obvious but it is common to take breaks from wearing your hearing aids because it can be tiring. But when driving, it is critical that you are as alert and aware as possible. You want to make sure that you are hearing all that you can. It also will help your brain readjust to processing the sounds you experience while driving.
3. Fully Charged
Before getting into your car, make sure that your hearing aids are charged. The last thing you want to deal with is hearing aids that aren’t working while you are on the road. We highly recommend keeping spare batteries in your car as well. If your hearing aids are rechargeable, check that they are fully charged and keep a portable charger with you!
4. Reduce Nosie
We can be surrounded by a lot of noise while driving. Some of this noise you cannot change – environmental noise, honks, sirens, trains etc. But you can reduce the noise that you can control. This includes reducing the volume of any music or podcasts playing, asking others in the car to speak quietly, and rolling up the car windows. This supports your ability to focus on your driving.
5. Limit Distractions
It is especially critical to stay focused when driving with hearing impairment. Another way to do this is by limiting distractions: talking on the phone, eating, drinking, having a conversation with multiple people in the car etc. If you need to look up directions or make a call, we recommend pulling over to do so. Also, we encourage using hearing aids with Bluetooth technology if you need to make a call while driving
6. Maximize Use of Vision
When once sense is impacted, other senses compensate. Because your hearing is impaired, you want to make sure that the major sense you rely on while driving, your sight, is as sharp as possible. Having your eyesight evaluated is extremely useful. Also, you can effectively use and maximize your vision by:
- Using extended rear-view mirrors – these larger mirrors help with seeing and being aware of blind spots
- Regularly cleaning your windshield and windows so you can see as clearly as possible
7. Regularly Examine Hearing
Maintaining your hearing health is not only important for driving, but also for your general well-being. We recommend that you asses your hearing annually. This allows you to observe and address any changes to your hearing with a specialist, ensuring that your hearing needs are being met effectively.
For older adults, the ability to drive and maintaining this independence is important. When experiencing hearing loss, driving can be more difficult. Using hearing aids effectively and taking a few measures can support you driving safely!