Lots of older people have hearing loss, but does that mean it’s unsafe for them to drive? Driving habits differ amongst different individuals so the response isn’t straightforward.
While hearing loss is a component to consider when driving a vehicle, a skilled driver is still proficient even if they need to adjust the volume on the radio.
For individuals who commute on a regular basis the question of whether hearing loss poses a threat while driving is an important consideration. Is your hearing loss making you a dangerous driver?
Think beyond driving…
Early stage hearing loss most likely won’t negatively impact your driving, but if it goes untreated, driving will become progressively more unsafe.
Johns Hopkins Medicine reports there is a definite connection between hearing and brain health. The brain has to work overtime struggling to hear, which causes it to have fewer resources for other daily tasks. It has a detrimental effect on cognition and can play a role in the onset of dementia. Driving is certainly out of the question for somebody who has dementia.
If you have hearing loss, can you still drive?
Driving requires robust observational skills and some of that is auditory, but that doesn’t mean you can’t drive with hearing loss. The Center for Hearing and Communication reports that about 48 million Americans have significant hearing loss, and a good number of them still drive.
Tips for driving if you have hearing loss
You can still be a safe driver if you make some adjustments and use these tips.
Come in to see us for a hearing test and find out if hearing aids will help your condition. Hearing aids can help get rid of the “should I be driving with hearing loss” question.
Be a more observant driver
You will still need to be observant about what’s going on around your vehicle even if you use hearing aids.
Don’t let it get too noisy in your car
This will let you focus your listening on driving without distractions. Ask your passengers to talk more quietly and keep the radio down or off.
Learn to check your dashboard often
When you drive with hearing loss, the little things can add up. For instance, you will no longer hear that clicking noise that tells you that your turn signal is blinking. You will have to rely on your eyes to pick up the slack, so get in the habit of scanning your dashboard to see what your car is trying to tell you.
Make maintenance a priority
Maybe your car is making a strange noise in the engine but you can’t hear it. That is a significant safety hazard, so make a point of having your car serviced regularly. For people with hearing loss, this is important, even more so than it would be for someone who doesn’t have hearing loss.
Pay close attention to other vehicles around you
Obviously, you would do that anyway, but you want to look for signs you might be missing something. If you see other cars pulling off the road, you should do that too because you might have missed the sirens. Use the actions 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. Your other senses will normally adjust to help keep you safe, which means it is possible to drive safely even if your hearing has started to go. But if you’re feeling concerned about it, make an appointment to come see if we can help you better your situation, possibly by using hearing aids.
Come in and let us help you improve your quality of life by exploring the hearing solutions that will be suitable for your distinctive hearing situation.