For older adults, driving with hearing loss can be a challenge. As we age, our reaction time may slow down, which means we must take extra precautions on the road. This is especially true if you have hearing loss and struggle to hear the sounds around you when you’re in the vehicle. Driving keeps you independent, so we hope you find these tips helpful.
Does Hearing Affect Your Ability to Drive?
If you’ve noticed changes in your hearing and suspect you may have a hearing loss, it is important to see your hearing health provider.. Driving with untreated hearing loss could put you and others at risk.
Getting behind the wheel with hearing loss means you could miss important sounds around you. You may not hear the beeping warning that your seat belt is unfastened, a door is ajar, or your signal light is still on. If you’re driving with untreated hearing loss, you might miss the engine warning beep, a rattling sound under the hood, a strange clicking sound, or any other warning sounds that could alert you to a mechanical problem.
With untreated hearing loss, you’re less likely to hear the honking from the car in your blind spot and may not hear the emergency vehicle siren until they’re right behind you. Driving with hearing loss can be a big safety risk that can impact you and all the other drivers around you.
Check Your Vision
The most important sense when driving is your vision. If you have untreated hearing loss, you’ll be relying on your eyes even more, checking your mirrors more often, watching the dashboard for warning lights, and making sure you’re aware of everything that’s happening around you. It’s recommended that people visit the optometrist once a year to make sure they’re seeing clearly.
Replace Your Rear view Mirror
As mentioned above, if you have a hearing loss, you may rely on your vision more than ever. It’s important to have a good field of vision. Get a larger rear view mirror and side mirrors to make it easier to see behind you. A bigger mirror will reduce blind spots, and you’ll be able to keep track of the other vehicles around you. Many newer vehicles offer the option of a rear view camera as well.
Get Rid of Distractions
If you usually listen to music in the car, it’s best to turn it off. Listening to music can be a big distraction for anyone, but if you have hearing loss, music will make it even harder to hear the sounds you need to hear to stay safe. Avoiding music will also remove the distraction of changing radio stations, or taking your eyes off the road.
If you’re traveling with passengers, keep conversations to a minimum. You’ll have lots of time to talk once you’ve reached your destination, and straining to hear the conversation will distract you from the road.
Never eat, put on makeup, or text while driving. These distractions reduce your safety, and for hard of hearing drivers, these distractions could cause an accident. If you need to phone or text someone while driving, park the car before picking up your phone, and keep you and everyone else on the road safe.
Turn Up the Volume on Your GPS
Bluetooth-compatible devices will allow you to hear GPS directions through your hearing aids. If you use GPS to drive, have your hearing devices programmed and paired with your cell phone. Avoid looking at your GPS or phone while on the road, and keep your eyes on the road. Looking at your GPS will cause a lot of distractions and impact your safety on the road.
Wear Your Hearing Aids
Don’t leave home without your hearing aids, and be sure you’re wearing your devices on the road. They’ll help you hear all the sounds around you, localize sounds, and keep you safe. Make sure your hearing aids are full of power before you leave. If you have rechargeable batteries, make sure you pack your charger, and if you have replaceable batteries, keep a spare set in your bag.
The Hearing Doctor
One in three people over the age of 65 have hearing loss, and many of them maintain their independence through driving. If you have hearing loss, keep yourself and everyone else on the road safe and visit us at The Hearing Doctor for a comprehensive hearing evaluation. At The Hearing Doctor, we partner with you to find the best solution for your hearing needs.