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Should my relative with hearing loss stop driving?

While many people worry about the safety of their loved ones with hearing conditions, many people can continue to drive safely despite their hearing loss. Studies suggest that distractions and lack of experience are far more dangerous than an inability to hear—that is, as long as the hearing-impaired driver takes proper precautions.

Tips for Hearing-Impaired Drivers

Hearing may not be as vital to driving as the ability to see, but there are many situations where hearing provides vital cues to drivers. A driver with hearing loss may not know there is an ambulance approaching if he cannot hear the siren, or might not hear the approach of an oncoming motorcycle.

Hearing-impaired drivers can customize their vehicles and maximize safety by:

  • Increasing vision. Hearing-impaired drivers should sure their side-view and rear-view mirrors are properly adjusted and that they can see every mirror while sitting comfortably. Drivers can also invest in extra wide or panoramic mirrors to see more of the road behind them, or visual alert systems that light up when they detect sirens or honking.
  • Maximizing hearing. Drivers should wear their hearing aids every time they drive, or use an FM system when there are passengers in the car to separate and understand multiple speakers. They should avoid turning up the music on the radio, in order to save what hearing they have for the road.
  • Obeying the instrument panel. A limited-hearing driver should make sure to check his dashboard lights frequently to make sure fuel is not running low, a turn signal hasn’t been left on, or for visual clues to other problems with the vehicle. If a maintenance warning light comes on, take the car in for service as soon as possible (there may be a serious problem that isn’t obvious to the typical driver).
  • Staying alert. If traffic begins pulling over, a driver should watch for the reflections of flashing lights in the car and in nearby building windows for signs of an oncoming ambulance or police car. He should keep in mind that emergency vehicles often travel together, and therefore wait until traffic begins moving to be sure all vehicles have passed. The hearing-impaired driver should take extra care when approaching a railroad crossing and look several times for flashing lights or signs of approaching trains from both directions.
  • Knowing their limits. Even if a hearing-impaired person can drive safely, it does not mean he or she feels comfortable doing so—and being nervous leads to more driving errors. If you feel unsafe when driving, explore other options, such as public transportation or coordinating rides with a friend or relative.

Are you sure you will be able to hear the traffic around you? Your hearing needs may have changed in the past few years. Call us today at 866-517-4415 to set up an appointment with one of our hearing specialists.