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[Driving is a necessity for most Americans, and we think nothing of getting in that car in the morning. But it is more dangerous than you think. Fatalities from accidents are the fourth leading cause of death in the US, of which car accidents make up the vast majority. It is therefore important to take safety seriously.
For someone with hearing loss however, driving comes with its own set of challenges. Good eyesight is indeed very important for oncoming vehicles or watch traffic signals, but hearing is equally important. The ability to notice emergency vehicle sirens allows us to pull over safely. Hearing the honks of other cars can give us an idea of upcoming hazards. Being able to hear a mother calling her child as they run after a ball into the street can potentially save a life.
With that in mind, here are a few tips to keep you safe on the road as you use your hearing aids.
Get comfortable with your hearing aids
When you first receive your hearing aids, try not to tackle complicated driving maneuvers from day one. Take some time to get used to the all the new sounds you can hear. As you might imagine, being able to hear everything again can be a jarring experience while driving on the road. Honking horns, screeching tires, and the sound of construction are all new sounds that might catch you off guard. It is for this reason that you probably don’t want to wear them for the first time on the drive home from your hearing clinic.
For the first drive with hearing aids, it’s best to start slow and simple. Set up your hearing aids by sitting in a quiet place and making sure the volume is set to a good level. Keep your children at home and begin with an easy drive on a slow-moving street in a neighborhood without much traffic. You’ll notice many more sounds around you so it’s best to get used to these with a drive on easy-to-manage roads.
Reduce distractions inside your car
Try and keep noise distractions to a minimum as distracted driving leads to dangerous situations. Refrain from playing music or listening to podcasts so that your ears are free to hear danger cues like sirens or horns. Other people can also be a distraction. Talking with passengers reduces your focus on the road. If you’re traveling with other people, ask them if it ok if they refrain from talking too much until you arrive at your destination. You might seem like a dull bore initially, but car safety trumps every other concern, and you can always make up for it by being extra chatty at your destination. Equally importantly, try not to multitask by grabbing something from the back, or eating while driving. Distractions split your attention which open you up to more mistakes and accidents.
Look after your car
If you’re driving with hearing loss it’s important that you visit your mechanic regularly. Even with your hearing aids you might miss the warning sounds from the dashboard or may not hear the rattling under the hood. If you can’t hear that small noise and it becomes a louder sound, you’ll have a far bigger problem on your hands. Avoid any unwanted vehicle trouble and service your car regularly.
With preparation, practice and adherence to safe guidelines, you will find that driving with hearing aids is no problem at all, and you’ll quickly become used all the different noises you encounter. You driving will actually improve as good hearing is the natural supplement to visual awareness which will help you to avoid dangerous situations and accidents. After some getting used to your hearing aids, you’ll find a whole new awareness to your driving environment, helping keep yourself, loved ones, and strangers out of harm’s way.
Hearing aids should make driving safe and easy, but just like your car, they work best when they are properly and regularly maintained. Make sure that you hearing aids are in good shape by visiting us at Absolute Audio for repairs and maintenance. If you believe you have a hearing loss, contact our team to schedule a consultation and hearing test.