Hearing loss is a widespread challenge for older individuals, but does it require quitting driving? Driving habits vary amongst different people so the response isn’t straightforward.
While hearing loss is a factor to consider when operating a vehicle, a competent driver is still capable even if they have to adjust the volume on the radio.
For individuals 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 likely won’t negatively effect your driving, but if it goes untreated, driving will become progressively more dangerous.
Johns Hopkins Medicine reports there is a distinct connection between hearing and brain health. The brain has to work extra hard struggling to hear, which causes it to have fewer resources for other everyday activities. It has a negative effect on cognition and can play a role in the onset of dementia. An individual suffering from dementia definitely can’t drive.
If you have hearing loss, can you still drive?
You can continue to drive with hearing loss, but it should be noted that safe driving demands strong observational skills including auditory awareness. The Center for Hearing and Communication reports that about 48 million Americans have significant hearing loss, and a good portion of them still drive.
Guidelines for driving if you have hearing loss
With some adjustments, you can still continue to be safe on the road. Here are some tips.
Stop putting off
Visit us, have your hearing tested, and think about how hearing aids can help things for you. The question of whether you should be driving can be removed by using hearing aids.
Be a more observant driver
Even with hearing aids, you will still need to be a more observant driver to make sure you’re not missing anything in or around your vehicle.
Don’t let it get too noisy in your car
This will help you be less distracted. Turn the radio off or down and ask your passengers to keep the chit-chat to a minimum.
Remember to look at your dashboard often
When you drive with hearing loss, the little things can mount up. For instance, you will no longer hear that clicking noise that tells you that your turn signal is blinking. You will have to depend on your eyes to compensate, so get in the habit of checking your dashboard to see what your car is trying to tell you.
Keep your vehicle well maintained
Perhaps 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 routinely. For individuals with hearing loss, this is important, even more so than it would be for someone without hearing loss.
Watch the other cars closely
This is a no-brainer for everyone but if you have hearing loss it’s even more poignant. If you see other cars pulling to the side of the road, you should do that too because you might have missed the sirens. Use the behavior of other drivers to get some visual clues about traffic patterns around you.
Can you 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 is beginning to go. But if you’re feeling worried about it, make an appointment to come see if we can help you improve your situation, possibly with hearing aids.
Give us a call today to schedule your hearing exam and explore hearing aid options for your distinctive lifestyle.