Hearing loss can produce more fatigue and strain than people realize. This is because, in addition to occurring in the ears, hearing loss also happens in the brain. The areas of the brain responsible for language comprehension become impaired which makes it more challenging to readily process incoming sound. Fortunately, hearing aids provide substantial support that allows people to navigate with greater ease. But it is also important to know that engaging in daily tasks can still require more work for people with hearing loss – this includes driving. By implementing simple measures, people with impaired hearing can drive more safely.
- Get adjusted to hearing aids. Hearing aids are savvy pieces of technology that maximize hearing capacity. But unlike glasses which you put on and vision is instantly enhanced, hearing aids take a little bit of time to adjust to. With hearing aids, you are retraining your ears and brain to process sound with the assistance of this device. You likely will be able to hear sounds you haven’t heard in quite some time so it takes the brain some time to adjust to these new sounds. Give yourself the time to become completely comfortable and familiar with your hearing aid. This will better allow you to hear environmental noise which increases road safety.
- Keep extra supplies handy. It is important to have easy access to backup supplies for your hearing aid in the case of an emergency. This includes keeping extra batteries in your car just in case your hearing aid dies. If your hearing aid comes with a rechargeable feature, be sure to have a portable charger in your car.
- Drive with the windows up. It is important to be as focused as possible while driving. Additional noise in the car can make it harder to pick up and process the sounds you need to hear while driving. This provides more noise for the brain to have to filter through which makes it more challenging to hear the sounds that are necessary while on the road. So reducing noise as much as you can is a useful way to cut down on distracting and competing for sound. A great way to do this is by driving with your windows rolled up which reduces unwanted noise – traffic, sounds from bystanders, inclement weather, etc.
- Minimize distractions. In addition to reducing noise, another safety tip is to minimize other distractions. Trying to multitask while driving is dangerous, especially if your hearing is impaired. Avoid texting while driving, having conversations on the phone, eating, etc. These are common activities people engage in while in the car which can easily distract one’s attention from the road and their environment. Be sure to pull over if you need to make a phone call or look up directions, keep chatting to a minimum if you have others in the car, and maintain low volume settings if you are listening to a podcast or music.
- Make adjustments to your car. Hearing is a key way we navigate driving and road safety. So if hearing is impaired, it can be really helpful to strengthen other senses that also contribute to road safety like vision. There are ways to enhance vision and visual cues which can better support driving. You can do this by expanding your rearview mirror and consistently cleaning your windshield. You can also adjust brake and gas pedals to make them easier to press. In addition to making physical adjustments to your car, be sure to check your vision regularly to ensure you are maximizing sight.
- Set up Bluetooth navigation. This tip is especially useful for people who are in their car regularly if you are taking a road trip, or utilize directions consistently. A common hearing aid feature is Bluetooth connectivity. This allows a hearing aid to wirelessly connect with other electronic devices and stream audio directly. You can utilize this feature to stream directions to your hearing aid which makes navigating directions much easier. This enhances sound quality and minimizes distractions, allowing you to access directions clearly and easily.
In addition to these tips, be sure to always wear your hearing aids while driving. Your hearing aid is designed to support your hearing, increasing environmental awareness and safety!