Driving is an activity of daily living that many of us value and with it, comes a sense of independence. Knowing that you have the power to go where you want without having to depend on someone else. The ability to drive, however, can be affected by your bodily senses, including hearing. Driving with a hearing impairment can present a unique set of challenges, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. In fact, even deaf people have found ways to drive safely. Ellie Parfitt, a woman who was born profoundly deaf, listed the following four things to consider when driving with hearing loss:

Dealing with sirens and emergencies

An important part of driving safely is being aware of your surroundings, including other drivers and road hazards. This includes being aware of emergency vehicles. If you have hearing loss, you won’t get the auditory cues to tell you that sirens are approaching. Instead, you must rely on visual clues or the assistance of a passenger. Look in your mirrors frequently to help you be on the alert for oncoming emergency vehicles.

Communication while driving

Many people rely on cell phone communication with others outside the car, or conversation with passengers within the vehicle, to help pass the time while driving. This can be challenging if you have hearing loss. Road noise, or other noise within the vehicle, can interfere with being able to hear communication well. If your budget allows, consider getting smartphone hearing aids. Their Bluetooth capability enables them to stream conversation directly from your phone to your hearing aids. If you want to converse with passengers, let them know you have hearing loss. Ask them to speak up and turn their head toward you so you have a better chance of hearing what they say.

Reactions to other vehicles and drivers

Other than when they’re simply impatient, most drivers utilize their horn to notify others of potential dangers or things to be aware of. If you are driving with hearing loss, however, you will not necessarily hear the blaring of a horn. Instead, look for other clues that would provide warning signs, such as gestures from other drivers or flashing headlights.

What to do if you’re pulled over

Getting stopped by the police is a nerve-wracking experience for anyone, but if you have difficulty hearing, it might feel even more intimidating. The best way to deal with this situation is to simply inform the officer of your hearing impairment when they come to your vehicle window. If they know upfront, they will be more likely to be able to communicate with you in an effective manner.

While driving with hearing loss can be challenging, it certainly doesn’t have to be impossible. Consider the tips mentioned above for a safer driving experience, and always talk to your hearing professional if you have any questions about being able to drive with a hearing impairment.

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Your Guide to Safely Driving with Hearing Loss was last modified: July 25th, 2019 by Olivia