Living with hearing loss can be quite an adjustment for you and your family. It could also become a very dangerous situation if you are not vigilant. What if you can’t hear a warning alarm or someone calling your name? When you have significant hearing loss, it changes your experience of the world. When you get on the road with hearing loss there are, of course, special concerns to think about.
Driving with hearing loss requires adaptation and adjustment, from navigating noisy traffic to making sure you have alert systems in your vehicle that are able to catch your attention while driving. There are warning sounds within and around the car that signal hazards ahead, but if you have untreated hearing loss, it may be difficult to hear them.
If you are already wearing hearing aids you are already on the path to being a safer driver, but hearing aids can take some getting used to. For those who are treating hearing loss with the use of hearing aids, here are some tips to help you and your family stay safe on the road.
Keep Your Windows Up
Even though a car ride may seem like a quiet event, there’s actually a lot of noise to avoid. If you have hearing loss, you can help cut down on distracting noise while you drive by keeping your windows up. Wind noise can be distracting even to drivers without hearing damage, and wind noise can grow louder the faster your drive. When wearing hearing aids, wind noise can get amplified and can be especially unpleasant. Even when the weather seems ideal, opt for your air conditioning and climate control – it will give you a quieter ride.
Get Clear Directions
If you are going somewhere unfamiliar, you’ll want safe and clear navigation. Consider a GPS device for your car, mounted in a place where you can easily glance at its screen and read your next direction. If you have a smart phone with a navigation app, like Google Maps, make sure directions are presented as text in addition to being spoken. Get a dashboard mount for your smart phone to keep directions in easy sight while you drive. Additionally, some hearing aids will give you the option of streaming smart device audio, like driving directions, directly into your ear. Otherwise, you can amplify audio directions through most car stereos.
When you’re driving with hearing loss, you’ll want to keep the cabin of your vehicle free from distractions. You’ll need to use your hearing to be alert for emergency sirens, unusual vehicle noises, and other traffic. To keep your ears on the road, avoid listening to music or radio while you drive. Keep your eyes on the road and don’t indulge in distractions, such as texting. Activities that take away from your vision and coordination should be avoided while your car is in motion.
Consider a Visor Card
In the event that you need to deal with a traffic officer or highway patrol, you may want to consider carrying a visor card clipped to the inside of your windshield visor. The card is a clear way to announce to the officer that you may have trouble hearing their directions. In the event you are pulled over, you can put your visor down and swing it towards your window then keep your hands on the wheel. In the event of a traffic stop, getting instructions in writing can help keep communication clear. Laminated and pictorial visor cards can be ordered online or downloaded.
Keep Your Car Well-Maintained
As a person living with hearing loss, you may not be able to hear strange thumps, clicks or screeches when you drive. These sounds could signal that your vehicle is in need of repairs. If ignored, they can do long-term damage to your car or put you in danger. It’s a good idea to ask a trusted mechanic for his opinion on the condition of your vehicle if you plan on driving longer distances.
Wear Your Hearing Aid
This is the most critical thing you can to do to stay safe while driving! If you have a hearing loss and use hearing aids, make sure to get your hearing checked annually to ensure that your devices are properly treating your needs. At Advanced Hearing Solutions, we provide comprehensive hearing health services, from hearing tests to hearing aid fittings. Contact us today for an appointment.