Lots of older individuals experience hearing loss, but does that mean it’s hazardous for them to drive? The response isn’t straightforward, as driving habits differ among individuals.
While hearing loss is a factor to think about when operating a vehicle, a competent driver remains capable even if they have to lower the radio volume.
For people who commute frequently the question of whether hearing loss creates a threat while driving is an important consideration. Is your driving becoming hazardous because of hearing loss?
Think beyond driving…
Early stage hearing loss most likely won’t negatively effect your driving, but if it’s neglected, driving will become increasingly dangerous.
There is a strong connection between hearing health and brain health, as reported by Johns Hopkins Medicine. Struggling to hear forces your brain to use valuable resources just to understand what individuals are saying. It is a contributing factor to brain atrophy, which results in dementia. Driving is definitely off the table for somebody who has dementia.
Should you drive if you have hearing loss?
You can continue to drive with hearing loss, but it should be noted that safe driving demands strong observational skills and this includes 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.
Guidelines for driving if you have hearing loss
You can still be a safe driver if you make some adjustments and use these tips.
Stop putting off
Come in to see us for a hearing test and find out if hearing aids will help your situation. The question of whether you should be driving can be removed by using hearing aids.
Be a more aware driver
You will still need to be aware of what’s happening around your vehicle even if you use hearing aids.
Keep the noise down inside your car
This will allow you to focus your listening on driving without being distracted. Turn the radio off or down and ask your passengers to keep the chatter to a minimum.
Keep an eye on your dash lights
When you drive with hearing loss, the little things can mount up. You might not be capable of hearing that clicking noise that your turn signal makes, for instance. You will have to rely on your eyes to compensate, so get in the habit of scanning your dashboard to see what your car is trying to tell you.
Make maintenance a priority
You may not hear that rattling noise under the hood anymore or the warning alarm alerting you to an issue with your engine or another critical component. Get your car serviced routinely so you can avoid this major safety risk. For individuals with hearing loss, this is crucial, even more so than it would be for somebody without hearing loss.
Watch the other cars closely
Obviously, you would do that anyway, but you want to look for signs you may be missing something. You may not hear emergency sirens, for example, so if the cars are pulling off to the side, you should as well. Look to see how other drivers are responding to their surroundings to get hints on what you might not be hearing.
So is it possible to safely drive when you have hearing loss? It’s really a personal choice. It is possible to be a good driver even if your hearing isn’t what it once was because odds are your other senses will help you make the adjustment. But if you’re feeling worried about it, make an appointment to come see if we can help you better your situation, possibly with hearing aids.
Contact us right away to schedule your hearing exam and explore hearing aid options for your unique lifestyle.