For those who live in a busy city with a connected public transit system, there may not much need to drive. However, for the rest of us, driving is the key to our mobility and independence. We rely on driving to see our friends and family, as well as getting to work and attending our hobbies outside of the house. How much do you rely on your hearing when you drive?
If you are getting older and you notice that your hearing is not what it used to be, you may have already noticed that it makes it harder to be ready and alert for all the unexpected things that can happen when you are behind the wheel. While your sense of sight is essential for spotting obstacles on the road, your sense of hearing can alert you to all sorts of things to help you be more aware while driving.
How Hearing Helps Us When Driving
We may not even notice how our hearing alerts us to the activity all around us, such as an urgent oncoming of an ambulance or an unexpected change in traffic. Very often we hear things before we can see them, such as a honk from a vehicle in our blind spot or a loud motorcycle engine weaving quickly between lanes from behind. Whether we want to admit it or not, a hearing impairment can make a huge impact on your ability to drive safely. For those who don’t want to give up their driving privileges or whose employment relies on the ability to drive, we will want to address hearing loss immediately.
Treating Your Hearing Loss
The first step is to treat your hearing loss. While most cases of hearing loss are permanent, your hearing loss can be treated with the use of hearing aids. These amazing devices are becoming easier to use, with clearer sound and interactive with your other technology. This can not only help you communicate clearly but help you to be a more alert and safer driver. However, even with hearing aids, you are going to want to pay extra attention when driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that distracted driving claimed almost 3,500 lives in 2016. Here are just a few ways to stay as safe as possible when behind the wheel with hearing aids.
Maintain Your Hearing Aids
Before you go you are going to want to make sure that your hearing aids are working their best. There is nothing more distracting than feedback or needing to adjust the volume of your hearing aids while driving. There are several ways to ensure this. First of all, make sure to keep your hearing aids clean. Clean them every night before you go to bed and inspect them for any cracks or lost parts that could impact their performance when behind the wheel. Then before you drive, double-check to make sure that your batteries are fully charged. You’ll need them for the duration of your drive.
Keep It Quiet
While driving you are going to want to reduce background noise which can interfere with hearing your clearest. Make sure the radio is low or turned off. You’ll need full attention to ensure that you can hear sounds from the road. On a hot day, choose AC over an open window when you can, to lower the decibel level. If you have other passengers with you, ask them to keep the conversation to a minimum. While it’s always fun to chat while driving and can make the time go by faster, it can take your attention away from the road, where it is needed the most.
Make sure to avoid looking at your phone while driving. Today many of us use our phones for navigation. Make sure to mount your phone to your dash and put in the coordinates to where you are traveling before you start driving. If you get a phone call or text, make sure to ignore it, until you are safely parked. To make using the GPS even easier, you can utilize Bluetooth connectivity and have the GPS directions streamed into your car stereo or even your hearing aids.
Be a Responsible Driver
If you are a driver who has hearing loss, it is up to you to stay focused and keep it safe not just for you and your passengers, but everyone else on the road. Remember, driving is a team sport! The best thing you can do for the safety of everyone is to treat your hearing loss and make sure to wear your hearing aids, every time you get behind the wheel.