Lots of older people experience hearing loss, but does that mean it’s hazardous for them to drive? The response isn’t straightforward, as driving habits vary among individuals.
While hearing loss is a factor to consider when operating a vehicle, a skilled driver remains proficient even if they have to lower the volume on the radio.
For people who commute on a regular basis 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 most likely won’t negatively effect your driving, but if it’s neglected, driving will become increasingly dangerous.
There is a solid link between hearing health and brain health, as reported by Johns Hopkins Medicine. Struggling to hear forces your brain to use valuable resources just to comprehend what people are saying. It is a contributing factor to brain atrophy, which leads to dementia. Driving is definitely out of the question for a person with dementia.
If you have hearing loss, can you still drive?
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 suffer from hearing loss, most of them still drive according to 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.
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.
When you drive, be more aware
You will still need to be observant about what’s happening around your vehicle even if you use hearing aids.
Keep the noise down inside your car
This will let you focus your listening on driving without being distracted. Turn the radio off and ask your passengers to keep the chatter to a minimum.
Remember to check your dashboard often
When you drive with hearing loss, the little things can mount up. For instance, you won’t hear that clicking sound that lets you know that your turn signal is blinking. You will have to depend on your eyes to compensate, so get used to scanning your dashboard to see what your car is trying to tell you.
Keep your vehicle well maintained
You may not hear that rattling noise under the hood now or the warning bell alerting you to a problem with your engine or another critical component. That is a significant safety hazard, so make a point of getting your car serviced routinely. That’s a good idea 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 look for signs you might be missing something. You may not hear emergency sirens, for instance, so if the cars are pulling over to the side, you should too. Look to see how other drivers are responding to their surroundings to get clues on what you may not be hearing.
Can you 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 most likely your other senses will help you make the adjustment. If the idea makes you nervous, though, then it’s time to come see us and find a solution to improve your situation, like using hearing aids.
Contact us right away to schedule your hearing exam and explore hearing aid solutions for your distinctive lifestyle.