In 2022, there were over 238 million licensed drivers on the road, up five million from the year before. That means that 89% of the adults in the U.S. are behind the wheel of a car.
Driving is a right of passage, many of us learn when we are teenagers and never look back. You could say that in some ways, driving is like riding a bike. Cars have advanced by leaps and bounds in the 20th and 21st centuries, but the core of how we drive has remained the same.
Laws have been added, speed limits have increased, and car technology has changed, but there hasn’t been much new to learn about driving. So for many, adjusting to driving with hearing aids can feel like learning to drive all over again. Here are a few tips to remember.
Make sure to check your vision
Being able to see is an essential element of being a good driver. You may have to rely on your eyes even more if there are things you cannot hear. If you wear glasses make sure your prescriptions are up to date.
When at all possible, avoid driving during times of low visibility. For instance, it can be difficult for even the best drivers to see through the glare during sunrise, sunset, or at night. Just in case, keep a pair of sunglasses (prescription if necessary) in the car for sunny days.
Sound and sight work in combination to keep a driver alert on the road. It may take a bit of recalibration to drive with hearing aids. So first, get used to hearing aids outside of the car. Get accustomed to using your other senses while using aids.
Before embarking on a major journey drive around your neighborhood to get the feel of wearing your hearing aids while driving.
Take your time
Leave early, travel during low-traffic times, and give yourself a few extra minutes to get where you need to be. Reaction times can change with the use of hearing aids. So by giving yourself time and space on the road and staying aware of your surroundings, you increase your chances of avoiding collision. If you can spot danger in the road, you’ve given yourself enough time to stay away from it.
Adapt your car to your needs
These days cars are vocal about their needs. Often times they beep, bleep, ding, and ping to let you know information. Consider raising the volume of these alerts in the settings. In addition to maintaining your vehicle and keeping it in good safe condition, considering adding a few more visual aids like larger side and rear view mirrors for improved lines of vision.
Set up your navigational devices for easy use
It can be helpful to have popular destinations preset on your navigational devices. If it is through your car adjust the settings so that it is loud enough to hear clearly. Some hearing aids even allow you the ability to directly stream directions through bluetooth.
When driving with passengers it can be helpful to let them know that you are using hearing aids. They can act as co-pilot; help navigate and read directions. They can also be mindful not to distract you at crucial moments.
It can be exhilarating driving with the windows down and the music up but that greatly reduces what your ability to hear. It can be worth it to consider keeping your windows closed and radio down or off entirely.
Keep a hearing impairment card in your visor
Getting pulled over is a pain and can quickly become more difficult when communication breaks down. If you are pulled over it can be handy to have a card stored in the visor and ready to present. Easy to print templates can be found online. The card will notify the reader of your impairment and how to communicate with you.
If you do get pulled over…
Make sure to stop on the side of the road in a well lit area. Shut off your engine, keep your hands visible, and do not remove your seatbelt. Lower your window, pull the visor down and turn it towards the window so that the hearing impairment card is visible.
Get on the road to driving with better hearing. Call your hearing healthcare provider today!