Vision is certainly the most important of the five senses, with regard to driving, but hearing is vitally important too. While it’s not illegal to drive if you are experiencing hearing loss, it’s not entirely safe unless you take special care. Since about one third of people over 65 suffer from hearing loss (and double that number after age 75) we should all learn these tips, just in case it happens to us.
Reduce noise in the vehicle. Distractions will only make it harder to detect the things you need to hear. Keep the radio turned down or off, roll up your windows, and ask passengers in your car to refrain from speaking in heavy traffic.
No distractions. Don’t talk on the phone while driving, eat, or do anything else that takes your attention off of the road. This is a good rule for everyone to follow, but it’s especially important when additional concentration is needed.
Sync up. If you use a Bluetooth-enabled hearing aid, sync it with your car’s GPS system so that directions are easier to hear.
Shop for a newer vehicle. Newer models might include features that make driving easier and safer for someone with hearing loss. Many cars have alarms or vibrations that alert you to the proximity of other vehicles, for example. Some include built-in voice activated assistance, that can help when you need directions or have certain other questions.
Adjust your mirrors. Switch to a clip-on, wide-angle rearview mirror to get a better view of the road behind you. In some states, this is actually required of drivers with hearing loss. Regularly check your side mirrors to be certain they offer the best view possible.
Go for a vision check-up. Since your hearing is compromised, you’ll be relying upon your vision that much more. Make sure your glasses or contact lens prescription is up to date, and that your eyes are healthy, by visiting your optometrist regularly.
And of course, if you feel unsafe on the road, stop driving. It’s always better to play it safe, than to take a risk and regret it.