Although we rely primarily on the sense of sight for driving, hearing plays an important supporting role. Hearing the sounds of sirens from emergency vehicles, other vehicles’ horns, and malfunctions in your own vehicle are essential for safe driving. If your hearing is compromised, it can be a hazard to your own driving and others who share the road. The first step toward safe driving is to schedule an appointment with an audiologist or hearing specialist to have your hearing tested and to determine if you need hearing aids. Yet, even when you have hearing aids, some additional considerations will ensure that you are driving safely.
Proper Hearing Aid Use
One of the most important tips for driving with hearing aids is to make sure prior to driving that they are properly in place and at an appropriate volume. Under the wrong conditions, you may encounter feedback from your aids that would distract from safe driving. Set yourself up for success by getting your aids ready before engaging the vehicle.
When you engage the vehicle, it is a good idea to listen for the sound of any malfunction. Let the car sit in idle for a moment while you pay attention to the engine sound and any other sounds that seem out of place. If you notice something awry, it may be best to have the vehicle checked out right away, and the sound of malfunction may be difficult to notice while the vehicle is in operation. When crossing onto a new motorway, it is best to pause for a moment and listen for the warning signs of danger, as well. Sometimes it is necessary to merge onto a road without the opportunity to listen before engaging the vehicle, and heightened awareness in these moments can be helpful.
Everyone can benefit from undistracted driving, but driving with hearing aids makes it especially important to maintain a relatively quiet vehicle. Set the level of the radio or music low enough not to disturb your alertness. If you are traveling with noisy passengers, you may want to ask them to keep their voices down. With hearing aids in place, you should be able to carry on a conversation while driving, but don’t hesitate to pause the conversation when you need to listen for other sounds. It is always appropriate for a driver to ask other passengers to keep their voices down while the vehicle is in motion, and driving with hearing aids makes a quiet car even more important. Sometimes open windows at high speeds can be too loud for hearing aids, and you may want to drive with air conditioning on the highway rather than noisy wind.
While driving, focus your attention on a few important sounds that are important for safe driving. Sirens from ambulances, police cars, and fire trucks should be the first indicator of their approach. Keep your attention ready for these sounds, and be prepared to pull over when you hear them. It may be that you don’t hear a siren until the lights can be seen, and you should be ready for a quick response. Another important sound may come from surrounding vehicles. If it sounds like a car is fast approaching, be ready to pull into the right lane, if available. Train crossings are often equipped with bells to signal when the gates will be lowered, and you may want to pay special attention when approaching a railroad crossing.
Visual attention can be the best way to support compromised hearing. Keep your driving environment free of visual distractions. Though it is essential for all drivers to abide by this tip, be sure not to look at your phone while driving, and certainly do not text. Keep manipulation of the radio to a minimum, and try not to eat or do other activities while driving that require your visual attention. Maintain a clean windshield and properly positioned rearview mirrors. Replace your windshield wipers regularly to keep your vision clear while it is raining or incase other inclement weather comes about.
Hearing aids should make driving safe and easy, but they only work when they are properly and regularly used. Yet, even with hearing aids properly in place, some of these other precautions will ensure the wellbeing of you and your passengers while you are on the road. Make sure that you hearing aids are in good shape by visiting us at Hearing Group for repairs and maintenance. If you believe you have a hearing loss, contact our team to schedule a consultation and hearing test.