For most of us, driving with hearing aids should not pose any special danger. Still, we may find it is a bit different driving with our hearing aids in than it was before we needed them. By following a few key tips, you can stay safe on the road and easily adjust to wearing your hearing aids while driving.
Prepare in Advance
Our hearing aids will help us to hear horns, sirens, engine problems, and other sounds that might alert us to danger on the road—if they’re working! It’s important to make sure we have enough battery power to get us through the trip we’re about to take. If we wear rechargeable hearing aids, we can make sure they have a fresh charge when we get in the car. It may also be useful to have a means of charging them in the car, though nearly all rechargeable hearing aids these days will last a full day on a single charge.
If we wear hearing aids that use disposable batteries, think about whether it’s worth switching to a fresh set, even if our current batteries are still providing power. It might be worth swapping them out if they’re on the edge. We should also make sure to have at least one extra set of hearing aid batteries with us whenever we drive. If one of our hearing aids loses power, we can pull off the road to a safe place before swapping our batteries.
Listen Before Driving
Before we take off on the road, it’s a good idea to listen carefully to the car for a moment, before we add in the sounds of road noise and other vehicles. Turn the radio down and pay attention to the sound of the car. Is anything squeaking or squealing? Does the engine sound louder than normal? If anything seems amiss, we should schedule a repair and avoid driving until it has been completed.
Emphasize the Visual
It’s especially important for everyone who drives to be able to see clearly out of the vehicle, but it’s worth reiterating for those who wear hearing aids. Especially if we have difficulty locating sound, we need to make sure we can be confident that we’re seeing what we need to see when we check our blind spots and use our mirrors.
Keep Prescriptions Up to Date
It’s important to get a vision test every year or two to make sure our eyeglasses prescription is up to date and we don’t have any additional issues such as cataracts. If glare is a problem, polarized sunglasses and anti-glare coatings on prescription glasses can help.
Avoid Night Driving
For many of us, night driving can become difficult by our late 30s. If we have trouble seeing the road or dealing with headlights from oncoming traffic, we should avoid driving at night whenever possible, especially for long stretches. Street lamps may allow us to see clearly in town, but driving on unlit highways may pose a special challenge.
Some accessories may help us to see around us better. Wide-angle rearview mirrors and special side-view mirrors that capture more of the landscape are just two examples.
Choose a Car with Good Visibility
Finally, choosing the right car can make a big difference. The parts of the car that attach to the roof, between the windows, are called “pillars.” Some vehicles have narrower pillars than others, or may have taller windows. If we’re choosing a new car, we should make sure it provides the visibility we require to be safe on the road.
Keep the Car Quiet
The less noise we hear inside the car, the better we can hear what we need to hear outside of it! Keep the radio volume low—or turn it off—and ask passengers to keep their voices down. Similarly, make sure that the car itself is in good shape. If there are any exhaust problems, the car engine may become a source of distracting noise.
Ask for a “Driving Program”
Hearing care professionals can add a special program for driving. This should reduce road noise and engine noise, while allowing other sounds to come through loud and clear.