Many older individuals have hearing loss, but does that mean it’s hazardous for them to drive? The response isn’t clear-cut, as driving habits vary among individuals.
While hearing loss is a factor to consider when driving a vehicle, a seasoned driver is still proficient even if they need to adjust the volume on the radio.
For individuals who commute frequently the question of whether hearing loss presents a threat while driving is an important consideration. Is your hearing loss making you a dangerous driver?
Think beyond driving…
Early stage hearing loss probably won’t negatively impact your driving, but if it’s neglected, driving will become progressively more unsafe.
There is a solid link between hearing health and brain health, as reported by Johns Hopkins Medicine. The brain has to work extra hard struggling to hear, which causes it to have fewer resources for other everyday tasks. It is a contributing factor to brain atrophy, which results in dementia. Driving is definitely out of the question for a person who has dementia.
Should you drive with hearing loss?
You can still drive with hearing loss, but it should be noted that safe driving requires good observational skills including auditory awareness. Among the approximately 48 million Americans who have hearing loss, the majority of them still drive as reported by the Center for Hearing Communication.
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 situation. The question of whether you should be driving can be removed by using hearing aids.
Be a more observant driver
Even if you have hearing aids, you will still need to be a more aware driver to make sure you’re not missing anything in or surrounding your vehicle.
Don’t let it get too noisy in your car
This will help you be less distracted. Ask your passengers to talk more quietly and keep the radio down or off.
Keep an eye on your dash lights
It’s the little things that will add up when you drive with hearing loss. For example, you will no longer hear that clicking sound that lets you know that your turn signal is blinking. You will have to rely on your eyes to compensate, so get used to checking your dashboard to see what your car is trying to tell you.
Keep your vehicle well maintained
You might not hear that rattling noise under the hood now or the warning bell telling you there is a problem with your engine or another critical component. Have your car serviced regularly so you can prevent this major 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
Of course, you would do that anyway, but you want to watch for signs you might 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. Use the behavior of other drivers to get some visual clues about traffic patterns around you.
So is it possible to safely drive with hearing loss? It’s really a personal decision. Your other senses will typically adjust to help keep you safe, which means it is possible to drive safely even if your hearing is beginning to go. But if you’re feeling worried about it, schedule an appointment to come see if we can help you better your situation, possibly with hearing aids.
Come in and let us help you improve your quality of life by exploring the hearing options that will be suited to your unique hearing situation.