While sight might be the most important of the senses when it comes to driving, hearing is not far behind. We rely on hearing to alert us to sirens, horns, and other hazards that might be heard before seen. Hearing is also important in helping to determine when your own vehicle needs service, like when you notice a squealing belt, grinding brakes, or other worrisome sounds. It’s safe to say: the better you’re able to employ all of your senses while driving, the safer you’ll be on the road.
Hearing aids are a great help to drivers who have some hearing loss, but it’s important to use them correctly to get the most out of them. Let’s take a look at some of the things to keep in mind while you’re driving with hearing aids.
Driving with hearing aids takes just a bit of forethought before hopping behind the wheel. Before driving, make sure your hearing aids have enough power to get you through the trip you’re about to take. Bring extra batteries. If your hearing aids are rechargeable, make sure you have a way to charge them in the car if necessary.
Check your settings! Do you have a special program for driving? If so, make sure your hearing aids are set to it. Be sure to check your volume, as well. If it’s too loud, you might end up encountering feedback while driving, which could present a pretty serious distraction. Make sure to set everything up beforehand so you don’t have to change programs or pull microphones out of a glove box while you’re driving.
Before putting the car in gear, remove any distractions and listen to the car run for a moment. If you hear anything amiss with the engine idle, schedule a repair. Make sure your radio isn’t set so loud that you won’t be able to hear enough sound from outside the vehicle. Some intersections will present difficulty in terms of seeing cross traffic or even hearing it, so move carefully and listen attentively in those situations.
This is important for all drivers, but it’s worth bearing in mind when you’re wearing hearing aids, just as much. If you’re distracted by noisy passengers, it’s always appropriate to ask them to keep their voices down. If they’re controlling the stereo or playing media on other devices, you should make sure it’s not distracting to you while you’re driving.
Cars, especially older ones, let a lot of road noise into the cabin. This can compete with people’s voices in the cabin, creating fatigue as you struggle to hear speech over the din. While hearing aid programming can help with this, it might be beneficial to use an accessory microphone so that your travel companion can speak clearly into the microphone and reduce the strain on your ears.
Use Visual Aids
Wide rear view mirrors and other accessories can help you stay more visually attuned to the road. If you’re shopping for a car, try to pick one with smaller pillars so you have fewer blind spots. And, of course, remember to keep lines of sight open. Keep objects off the dashboard and out of the rear view area, and keep your windows clean! Clear lines of sight can make all the difference in traveling safely to your destination, so be sure to go out of your way to set yourself up for success in that department.
If you think you may have a hearing loss, hearing aids are the best way to make sure you can keep your independence behind the wheel. Many hearing aids today even help you to determine where sounds are coming from, which was unthought of with previous generations of hearing aids! If you’re in the market for hearing aids, make sure to tell your hearing healthcare professional whether driving is important to you. They’ll be able to help you choose the hearing aid model that will be of most help to you while driving, and can even create a program for driving that will zero in on the best types of hearing aid features to employ while you’re behind the wheel.