Getting behind the wheel has always meant freedom. Having your own car means you can go where you want to whenever you are ready. Of course, it comes with risks. In fact, driving may be the single most dangerous thing you ever do, despite that most of us get in a car almost every single day. Each day, an estimated 3,000 lives are lost due to accidents in cars, which equals over 1,000,000 traffic accident deaths annually! Even so, you may have been lucky enough to drive with minimal incident for years, and it’s likely based on the infrastructure of most of the US, outside of major cities, you simply must drive, just to get around.
If you have been diagnosed with hearing loss, then you are going to have to take a few extra steps to ensure that you are safe for you, your passengers and everyone else on the road. Our hearing helps us stay alert and aware of the world and on the road, hearing a warning sound can make all the difference in your ability to make snap second decisions which could save a life. The most common treatment for hearing loss are hearing aids, but they may require some nuance at times. Here are some tips for driving with hearing aids to make sure you can stay safe every time you get behind the wheel.
ALWAYS WEAR HEARING AIDS WHILE DRIVING
The first rule of thumb when driving with hearing aids, is to make sure they are always in before you leave. This might seem obvious, but hearing aids amplify the specific sounds you struggle with based on your hearing exam. When you don’t wear them, you will be more prone to missing important warning sounds such as a siren, a beeping horn, or screeching wheels. It can be hard to remember at first, but once you get in the habit of wearing them, it will be as commonplace as grabbing your wallet, phone, and car keys.
If your hearing aids use replaceable batteries, be sure to store some extra in your glove box and if you use a rechargeable model, make sure they are charged to capacity before you go. When hearing aids are charged and ready, they can amplify the road, so you’ll be ready for anything.
REDUCE BACKGROUND NOISE
A typical hurtle for the hearing impaired is hearing in background noise. While there are functions on newer hearing aids which help improve the ability to hear in noisy settings such as directional microphones and background suppression, this problem is ever present whether you wear hearing aids or not. This means it’s important to minimize distractions when you drive. Turn down the radio, when driving. You may also want to roll up the windows on a warm day in favor of air conditioning if it’s available. While the breeze may feel nice and fresh air relaxing, it’s important to be alert when driving.
If driving with passengers, it’s tempting to want to talk the whole way. This however can be distracting, and safety is the ultimate concern. If you are going to have a conversation, ask everyone to speak quietly and avoid stressful topics. You can always wait till after your parked to finish an important conversation where you’ll be able to focus completely.
If you use your phone or directions, it’s important to keep it our of your hands. Make sure you have a place to mount your phone on the dashboard with the directions set up and ready ahead of time. You can also program your phone to play through your hearing aids via Bluetooth connectivity on certain models to make sure you can hear clear and with less distraction.
It goes without saying to avoid looking at your phone while driving. Even hands free, phone conversations can be a distraction which takes your focus away from the road.
KEEP UP WITH HEARING AID MAINTENANCE
Your hearing aids are complex and amazing machines. However, your hearing can change over time and your hearing aids may not be properly programed any longer. Similarly, make sure you take good care of your hearing aids, cleaning them nightly and inspecting them for any cracks, loose wires, or signs of damage. When your hearing aids are up to date, they can be sure to work their best for you, to keep everyone just a bit safer on the road. To schedule a regular checkup and hearing aid maintenance, contact us to schedule a hearing exam now!