By Debbie Clason
February 25, 2019. Reprinted from Healthy Hearing with Permission.
How much do you rely on your hearing when you drive? Probably more than you know. Although your sense of sight is undoubtedly the most important when behind the wheel, your sense of hearing helps you detect approaching emergency vehicles, hear the blaring horn of an impatient driver or realize that your turn signals are engaged. While hearing loss doesn't significantly impact your ability to drive, it never hurts to be prepared and take extra precautions.
Get Treatment for Your Hearing Loss
First of all, if you aren’t hearing as well as you used to, find a qualified hearing healthcare professional and have your hearing evaluated. You may just have a bad cold or obstruction in your ear that can be removed, but if the diagnosis is hearing impairment, follow your professional’s recommendation for treatment.
The right treatment might be hearing aids, especially if you’ve developed sensorineural hearing loss, which includes age-related hearing loss. Not only can hearing aids amplify the important sounds you hear on the road, they can also keep your auditory system healthy so your brain doesn’t forget how to interpret other sounds in your environment.
Driving with Hearing Loss
Today’s hearing aids are technological marvels, with sensitive microphones designed to better discriminate between speech and background noises. Yet even with hearing aids, you’ll want to eliminate distractions while you’re driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving claimed almost 3,500 lives in 2016 and injured more than 390,000 people in 2015 alone. Here are a few tips to keep the distractions at a minimum:
Before you go
Once distractions are minimized, you’ll have more capacity to focus on the information youre ears are collecting along the way. Here’s how your eyes can help you:
Where the Rubber Meets the Road
Whether you hear well or have some degree of hearing loss, driving comes with a lot of responsibility. That means anytime you improve your driving skills, you reduce the risk of becoming an accident statistic and help make our roads safer. Reduce distractions, rely on visual clues and, above all, find a hearing clinic near you who can help you hear your best when you’re behind the wheel, as well as when you’re not.
About the Author
Debbie Clason holds a master's degree from Indiana University. Her impressive client list includes financial institutions, real estate developers, physicians, pharmacists and nonprofit organizations.