Tips for driving safely with hearing loss
How much do you rely on your hearing when you drive? Probably more than you think. Even though sight is the most important sense when you're behind the wheel, hearing helps you detect approaching ambulances, the horn of an impatient driver, or the sound of your turn signals that are turned on by mistake. While hearing loss does not have a significant impact on your ability to drive, it's still helpful to be prepared and take extra precautions.
Treating hearing loss
If you have noticed that your hearing isn’t as good as before, we advise you to consult a hearing care professional who will perform a hearing assessment. If you are in fact suffering from hearing loss, hearing aids can help you. Hearing aids amplify the important sounds you hear on the road and help your brain interpret all the sounds.
Your hearing will change over time. Therefore, it is important that the settings are always adapted to your needs so you can benefit from the advantages and comfort of the equipment.
If your hearing aid does not have rechargeable batteries, we recommend bringing a spare set of batteries with you when leaving your home. If you hear the signal that it is time to change your batteries while driving, stop and change them quickly.
If your hearing loss makes you feel unsure about driving safely talk to your hearing care professional. They can help you by demonstrating common traffic and car sounds in the clinic and use your reactions and responses to better tune the hearing aids, so you are able to hear the important traffic sounds.
Driving with hearing loss
Today's hearing aids are marvels of technology, with sensitive microphones designed to distinguish between speech and background noise. Yet even with hearing aids, you'll want to eliminate all distractions while driving. Here are some tips for doing this:
- Reduce the volume on the radio before driving to avoid having to fiddle with the buttons while driving. Avoiding exposure to excessive noise is not only good for preserving your hearing, but also allows you to concentrate better on the other sounds around you, especially those that are important for your safety
- If you have passengers in the car, you can avoid talking too much and too loudly. Even though it's always fun to participate in the conversation, doing something other than driving can divert your attention from what's happening on the road.
- Keep the car window closed to minimise the noise from the road. Today's vehicles are designed to reduce road noise, which is good news for drivers. Whenever you can reduce the number of sounds competing for your attention, you will be able to concentrate better.
- Concentrate on your driving, meaning that everything else can wait until you reach your destination.
- Put away your phone. Texting and making calls, even via hands-free, is dangerous and illegal in most countries.
Once distractions are minimised, you will be able to focus your attention on the relevant noises that you hear. But what about your sight? It is after all the most important sense when driving. Feast your eyes on these tips for keeping your eyes on the road:
- Just as you get your hearing checked by your hearing care professional make sure to get your eyes checked as well and wear glasses if you need them while driving. This is important for you as well as the other people with whom you share the road.
- Consider investing in so-called “wide-angle” mirrors. While they won't eliminate blind spots, they can help reduce the need to look over your shoulder. Check your rear-view mirror frequently to pay attention to vehicles approaching from behind.
Whether your hearing is good, or you have some degree of hearing loss, driving comes with a lot of responsibilities. To limit the risk of an accident, reduce distractions, use visual cues and, most importantly, find a hearing care centre near you that can help you improve your hearing whether you are behind the wheel or not.