You rely on your ears while you’re behind the wheel more than you realize. Honking horns, emergency sirens, interior car alerts and turn signals give you a sense of your environment inside and outside your vehicle.
But hearing loss affects your ability to perceive sounds while driving, which puts you and other drivers at risk for accidents. Here are tips that will help keep you safe on the road.
- Maintain your hearing aids. Keeping your devices in working order will give your ears the best shot at picking up the sounds inside and outside your vehicle. Your audiologist can adjust your hearing aids during appointments, especially if you’re experiencing feedback. Keep spare batteries with you in case your hearing aids need fresh ones. Don’t attempt to switch batteries while driving.
- Turn down the radio. Listening to music on your way to work or during a long drive is great, but it can be distracting. Long-term exposure to loud noises, like your car radio, can exacerbate your hearing loss. Music also masks external sounds like sirens and horns.
- Roll up the windows. Wind creates a lot of noise that can prove troublesome to drivers with hearing loss. You may also crank the radio louder if you drive with your windows down, which only compounds the problem.
- Keep conversations to a minimum. Trying to keep up with conversations while you’re driving puts strain on your brain. You’re taking in lots of stimuli, and that causes mental fatigue. Limiting conversations in the car allows your brain to focus more on environmental noise.
- Limit distractions. Multitasking and driving are never a good combination. Any task that takes your focus away from the road can have deadly consequences for you and other drivers.
- Sync your hearing aids. It’s best to pull over before you use your phone in the car. Several hearing aid manufacturers offer Bluetooth connectivity so you can make hands-free calls. It’s also an excellent way to stream GPS audio right to your hearing aids, so you don’t have to look at your phone for directions.