While driving with hearing aids may seem difficult at first, by keeping a few things in mind you can stay safe on the road.
Minimize Noise Inside the Car
Remember that hearing traffic sounds outside the car is more important than making out every syllable from the radio. Keep the volume low enough so that you can still hear the sounds of other cars around you.
If you have passengers, make sure they are not producing a distracting amount of sound as well. Children watching videos or playing video games should keep the sound low or, preferably, off. Also, while having the windows open might seem to make sense in terms of hearing what is happening outside the car, the added noise from wind will actually decrease your ability to hear more pertinent sounds, so keep the windows closed.
Since discerning between ambient sounds might be more difficult with hearing aids, you’ll want to make sure that whatever is going on inside the car you can still hear other motorists around you or problematic mechanical sounds coming from your own car.
Certain hearing aids will allow settings that maximize performance for different environments, or even allow for an external microphone for a passenger to use, so that you can both carry on a conversation and hear what’s happening on the road.
Maximize Visual Cues
When one sense is diminished, we start to rely more heavily on others. Maximizing your visual cues while driving becomes even more important as our hearing becomes less reliable. Make sure to get regular eye exams. If you correct your vision with glasses, keep a microfiber cloth and cleaning solution in the car so your lenses can be perfectly clean every time you drive. Though dirty glasses lenses won’t necessarily prevent you from seeing the road, they will increase fatigue over a shorter amount of time, which will in turn slow your reaction time. Dirty lenses can even cause headaches, which are a definite distraction while driving.
There are also things you can do to select or augment a vehicle to improve the view. Drive a car with large mirrors and optimal visibility through the windows. Cars with large pillars (the pieces that hold the roof on, that we can’t see through) should be avoided as they increase the size of blind spots. You can add a clip-on, wide-angle rearview mirror that will help you see passing cars coming up behind you. If you need to use a GPS or a cell phone for directions, place it as closely as possible to your normal driving viewing position, without blocking portions of the windshield that would be necessary to see cars coming from perpendicular spots in front of you. If you have Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids, you can sync them to your phone or GPS. This way you can hear the audible directions from the phone more easily. Phone use should be kept to a minimum, but if you absolutely need to take a call while driving, syncing to Bluetooth will also help with that.
Keep Up with Automobile Technology
In addition to the strides being made in hearing aid technology, automobiles are becoming increasingly capable of adapting to the needs of the hearing impaired. You’ll want to stay current on the options available, especially if you find yourself in the market for a new car. It may be that a new vehicle will have options for integrating with your hearing aids, or independent features that improve the driving experience for those with hearing loss.
Don’t Hesitate to Seek Treatment for Hearing Loss
Hearing aid technology has improved dramatically in recent years. While this provides far better options for increasing your ability to drive despite hearing loss, learning to use the hearing aids themselves becomes an important factor. All too often people decide that the difficulty of using their hearing aids is not worth the trouble. While there may be a learning curve involved with hearing aids, if you have trouble with any aspect of them you can consult with us at Hearing Health Care Services. We can help you figure out your hearing aids so that using them becomes second nature.
We all need to stay safe on the road, and even those of us with hearing loss can get around safely by keeping in mind the practices outlined above.