Hearing loss is a widespread challenge for older individuals, but does it merit quitting driving? Driving habits vary amongst different individuals so the response isn’t straightforward.
While hearing loss is a factor to consider when operating a vehicle, a skilled driver remains proficient even if they need to lower the radio volume.
For people who commute frequently the question of whether hearing loss presents a threat while driving is a significant consideration. Is your hearing loss making you a hazardous driver?
Think beyond driving…
Early stage hearing loss likely won’t negatively effect your driving, but if it’s neglected, driving will become progressively more dangerous.
There is a solid connection between hearing health and brain health, as reported by Johns Hopkins Medicine. Battling to hear forces your brain to use valuable resources just to understand what people are saying. It has a negative impact on cognition and can play a role in the onset of dementia. Driving is definitely off the table for somebody with dementia.
If you have hearing loss, can you still drive?
You can still drive with hearing loss, but it should be mentioned that safe driving requires good observational skills including auditory awareness. Among the approximately 48 million Americans who suffer from hearing loss, the majority of them still drive as reported by the Center for Hearing Communication.
Driving with hearing loss
With some adjustments, you can still stay safe on the road. Here are some tips.
Come in to see us for a hearing test and find out if hearing aids will help your condition. The question of whether you should be driving can be eliminated by using hearing aids.
When you drive, be more aware
Even with hearing aids, you will still need to be a more observant driver to ensure you aren’t missing anything in or around your vehicle.
Keep the noise down inside your car
This will help you be less distracted. Ask your passengers to talk more quietly and keep the radio down or off.
Learn to check your dashboard often
It’s the little things that will add up when you drive with hearing loss. For instance, you won’t hear that clicking noise that lets you know that your turn signal is blinking. So routinely look at your dashboard because your eyes will need to pick up the slack.
Keep your vehicle well maintained
You may not hear that rattling noise under the hood anymore or the warning alarm telling you there is an issue with your engine or another critical component. Get your car serviced routinely so you can prevent this significant safety risk. That’s a good plan for most individuals but a necessity if you are driving with hearing loss.
Watch the other cars closely
This is a no-brainer for everybody but if you have hearing loss it’s even more poignant. You might not hear emergency sirens, for example, so if the cars are pulling over to the side, you should as well. Use the behavior of other drivers to get some visual hints about traffic patterns around you.
So is it possible to safely drive when you have hearing loss? That’s up to you. It is possible to be a safe driver even if your hearing is not what it used to be because most likely your other senses will help you make the adjustment. But if you’re feeling worried about it, schedule an appointment to come see if we can help you improve your situation, possibly by using hearing aids.
Contact us right away to schedule your hearing test and investigate hearing aid options for your unique lifestyle.