Lots of older individuals have hearing loss, but does that mean it’s unsafe for them to drive? The response isn’t straightforward, as driving habits vary among individuals.
While hearing loss is a factor to consider when driving a vehicle, a skilled driver remains capable even if they have to adjust the volume on the radio.
Whether hearing loss poses a risk while driving is a critical consideration for individuals planning everyday commutes or winter road trips. Is your driving becoming unsafe because of hearing loss?
Think beyond driving…
If you are detecting hearing loss, it won’t have a huge impact on your ability to drive…yet. That day is coming, though, if you choose to just dismiss your decline.
There is a solid connection 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 daily tasks. It has a detrimental impact on cognition and can contribute to the onset of dementia. Somebody suffering from dementia certainly can’t drive.
If you have hearing loss, can you still drive?
Driving demands good observational skills and some of that is auditory, but that doesn’t mean you can’t drive if you have hearing loss. The Center for Hearing and Communication estimates about 48 million Americans have substantial hearing loss, and a good number of them still drive.
Tips for driving if you have hearing loss
With a few adjustments, you can still remain safe on the road. Here are some tips.
Stop putting off
Come in to see us for a hearing test and find out if hearing aids will help your condition. 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 going on around your vehicle even if you have hearing aids.
Keep the noise down inside your car
This will help you be less distracted. Turn the radio off 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 add up. You might not be capable of hearing that clicking sound that your turn signal makes, for example. So routinely check your dashboard because your eyes will have to compensate.
Make maintenance a priority
Maybe your car is making a weird noise in the engine but you are unable to hear it. That is a significant safety risk, so make a point of having your car serviced regularly. That’s a smart idea for most people but a necessity if you are driving with hearing loss.
Pay close attention to other vehicles around you
Of course, you would do that anyway, but you want to look for signs you might be missing something. You might not hear emergency sirens, for instance, so if the cars are pulling over to the side, you should as well. Look to see how other drivers are reacting to their surroundings to get hints on what you may not be hearing.
So is it possible to safely drive with hearing loss? That’s up to you. It is possible to be a good driver even if your hearing is not what it used to be because most likely your other senses will help you make the adjustment. But if you’re feeling concerned about it, schedule an appointment to come see if we can help you improve your situation, possibly with hearing aids.
Call us right away to schedule your hearing test and investigate hearing aid options for your unique lifestyle.