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Driving with Hearing Loss

Time To Read: 5 minutes

Ready to hit the road for a long drive or road trip? We have some great advice here.

  • Before you go
  • Identifying and responding to sound cues
  • Rely on visual cues
  • While driving

With the heat of summer over, a number of fortunate retirees might be considering hitting the road and joining the caravan of grey nomads. But before you set off, there are things you should do to maximise your enjoyment and to stay safe on the road.

Before you go

Clothing packed? Check! Car serviced? Check! Tyre pressures checked? Check!

Hearing aids checked?

If you rely on hearing aids, make sure they’re tip top condition before you head off.

Check your hearing aids. You should have your hearing checked every six months and your hearing aids calibrated.

Ensure your batteries are fully charged before you hit the road. If you’re hearing aids are not the rechargeable type make sure you install fresh batteries before you take off and have a spare set with you. If you are getting a low battery warning while you’re driving, pull over safely before changing them.

Identifying And Responding To Subtle Sound Cues

If you’re concerned that you might be missing important sound cues, then use your car to gauge whether you can hear:

  • Indicator signals
  • Engine sounds
  • Soft music played on the radio

Rely on visual clues

Visual cues are an essential part of safe driving and if you have hearing loss then it is likely you’re already highly attuned to visual cues.

Even if you’ve been driving for decades, but there are things you can do to help improve your vehicles sightlines and eliminate blindspots.

Before heading off on your trip, familiarise yourself with your vehicle’s blindspots - especially if you’re towing a vehicle and follow these tips:

Sit in the driver’s seat and follow this exercise:

  • Can you see over your shoulders on both sides?
  • How wide are the pillars?
  • How much can you see in the side mirrors?

This website has useful tips on how to adjust your mirrors to maximise the opportunity to see other vehicles and pedestrians.

Look for flashing lights on approaching vehicles and at railroad crossings. In the city, use building windows and other reflective surfaces to warn you of approaching emergency vehicles.

While driving

Reduce the number of distractions before you take off. Your most important task is to get to your destination safely.

Today’s modern cars are built to reduce road noise, but you can help by using the air conditioning/climate control and keeping the windows wound up. If you absolutely can’t drive without music playing, do ensure it’s kept to low volumes to reduce distraction.

Remind your passengers that you’d like them to be your co-pilot and act as an extra set of eyes as well as ears. This means they can play their part in helping keep distractions to a minimum.

Have your passenger take your phone calls. Answering mobile phones while driving is a dangerous distraction that you want to avoid.

If you’re driving solo, consider switching off your phone when you’re driving. You can then safely make the return phone call when you are at your destination. If you must take a call, ensure you use a hands-free system - not only is it safer, it is also legal.

You have the option of taking the call if your hearing aid has Bluetooth connectivity, then you can use that option to answer the call.

Further reading

When hearing aids are an integral part of your lifestyle, it helps you get the most out of life. We share some lifestyle articles here: