When you get behind the wheel it’s always important to be safe. This is particularly a concern as you age. As you age, your joints may get stiff, and your muscles may weaken. Arthritis is incredibly common and can make it more difficult to turn your head to look back, turn the steering wheel quickly, or brake safely. It can also be attributed to declining eyesight and hearing loss. This is why if you love to drive and the freedom which comes with it, it’s important to keep up with every aspect of your health, especially your hearing health.
Hearing Loss and Driving
One in three people struggle with hearing loss over the age of 65 and this number jumps to half of those 75 years and older. This means it’s likely that you may have hearing loss. You may not even know it, due to the subtle manner in which it creeps over years. If you are driving with hearing loss, it’s important to schedule a hearing exam as soon as possible and get fitted for hearing aids. Hearing aids amplify sounds you struggle with based on your hearing exam, making it easier to follow the conversation and be more aware of the world around you. This makes it so much safer to drive with hearing loss getting you ready for any sounds which can alert you to oncoming traffic. Once you have your hearing aids, here are some other things you can do to ensure a safe experience while on the road.
Test your eyes as well as your ears
If your hearing is an issue, it’s a good idea to stay up to date on every other aspect of your health. Your vision is another essential sense to help you stay alert when you are on the road. Your sight helps you keep an eye out for street signs, traffic signals, obstacles, pedestrians, other drivers, and more. If you don’t hear a warning, you may be able to see it. If your vision is declining it’s important to take care of it right away. Test your vision annually to make sure your prescription is crisp and up to date. If you’ve noticed that you are straining to see things far away or any sudden changes in your vision, visit your optometrist as soon as possible.
Lower the number of distractions
It’s important that when you are driving that your full attention is on the road. This means limiting as many distractions as possible. With hearing loss, background noise can be distracting. Keep the windows rolled up on a hot day in favor of the air conditioning if it’s an option. You are going to want to turn off the stereo, or at least keep it lowered to a level where you can hear any warning sounds as fast as possible.
If you travel with noisy passengers, you might want to ask them to keep down their voices. It’s tempting to use your time driving as a time to catch up with friends that are driving with you but ask them to limit it to a time when you can truly focus and, do not hesitate to postpone the discussion.
You are also going to want to avoid using your phone while driving. This means that if you use your phone for GPS directions, make sure you hook your phone up to a Bluetooth system or dashboard mount, so you won’t be tempted to look down at your phone.
4. Keep a card visor in your car
No one wants to deal with an officer when driving, but if you do get pulled over, being prepared is a great idea and can reduce a stressful situation. You may want to consider carrying a visor card clipped inside your windshield viewfinder. This card is a clear way to communicate to the officer that you have trouble hearing their directions. Make sure it’s in a prominent place so they can see it even in a high-stress situation. The card is a clear way to tell the officer you might have trouble hearing their directions.
All you have to do is put your visor down gently and swing it towards your window if you’re pulled over and then place your hands on the wheel. When you post instructions in writing can help keep communication clear at a traffic stop. There are even templates you can order or download online specifically for this.
Treating Hearing Loss
If you have hearing loss don’t ignore it – it will only get worse and compromise your safety and everyone else on the road as well. Schedule a hearing exam with us today.