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.
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:
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. Keep the car window closed to minimize 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.
4. Concentrate on your driving, meaning that everything else can wait until you reach your destination.
5. Put away your phone. Texting and making calls that are not hands-free is dangerous and illegal in most states.
Once distractions are minimized, 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 thing when driving. Feast your eyes on these tips for keeping your eyes on the road:
1. 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.
2. 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.
To limit the risk of an accident, reduce distractions, use visual cues and, most importantly, find a hearing care center near you that can help you improve your hearing whether you are behind the wheel or not.