If you have hearing loss in Charleston, you need to take extra precautions in many areas of your life. This is especially true when you slide behind the wheel. Driving already demands concentration; the hearing impaired must be extra vigilant before hitting the road.
Get Your Motor Running, Head Out on the Highway…Safely
Most drivers in Charleston take good care of their cars by ensuring they have their oil changed every 3,000 miles; topping off fluids when necessary; rotating the tires on a regular basis and running their vehicle through the carwash when it’s dirty (though some might need a little nudge in the form of a “Wash Me” reminder scribbled across a filthy window).
It’s all part of being a diligent driver. When you have hearing loss, you’ll need to prepare just as thoroughly before ever backing out of the driveway.
Visual cues are crucial to drivers, but hearing is just as important. You need to be alert for sirens from emergency vehicles, honking horns warning you of danger and Google Maps imploring you to take the next exit. A hearing impairment won’t interfere with your ability to drive, but it can contribute to an accident if you aren’t careful.
The following tips will help drivers with hearing loss in Charleston reach their destination safely.
- Seek treatment for hearing loss. It goes without saying that a hearing impairment should never go untreated. Not only will it impact your driving; it also increases your risk of developing a number of associated physical, social and psychological problems that can affect your long-term health and happiness.
- Eliminate distractions. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,500 traffic fatalities in 2016 and 390,000 injuries in 2015 were the direct result of distracted driving. The list of distractions is long; to ensure your safety, make it a habit to adhere to the following any time you hit the road.
- Turn down the radio. Whether you enjoy listening to music, podcasts, audio books or NPR while driving, doing so with the volume cranked up can prevent you from hearing other important sounds and interferes with your concentration. It’s okay to listen to the radio (or eight-track if you’re really old-school), but keep the volume turned down to a reasonable level.
- Keep conversations to a minimum. If you’re driving with passengers, refrain from too much talking as that can also keep your attention away from where it belongs – the road.
- Keep the windows shut. A little fresh air is nice, but when you’re cruising down the interstate at high speed road noise from open windows can interfere with your ability to hear. Keep the windows (and sun- or moonroof, for that matter) closed. If it’s warm, turn on the air-conditioning. And if you have a convertible, don’t drive with the top down, regardless of how pleasant the weather is.
- Don’t use your phone. Cellphones contribute to more cases of distracted driving in Charleston than anything else. Resist the urge to use your phone while driving; if you have an important call to make, do so only if you have a hands-free Bluetooth® option. And never, ever text!
- Rely on visual cues. Visual cues are important to all drivers but play an even bigger role in drivers with hearing loss. Schedule regular eye exams and if you have prescription lenses, wear them at all times when driving. A few other strategies to take advantage of visual cues when driving include:
- Use a full-view rearview mirror. Some states require hearing-impaired drivers to use a full-view rearview mirror. These won’t eliminate blind spots, but do provide a wider field of vision, making it easier to spot driving hazards – especially in parking lots and other public areas.
- Take advantage of reflections. Savvy drivers with hearing loss have learned to rely on reflections in building windows and other surfaces to alert them to flashing lights and other driving hazards. Learn to glance at them periodically when driving in cities and towns.
- Obey the law. Everybody should follow the law when driving, but this is especially true for people with hearing loss. If a police officer pulls you over, let them know you are wearing hearing aids so you’re sure to understand the reason you were stopped.
For more tips on navigating through your daily life with hearing loss – both on and off the road – contact your Charleston audiologist today.