Hearing loss has a significant impact on the lives of those it affects. Hearing impairments not only interfere with communication but also balance. Hearing loss can also have an impact on how those affected by it carry out day-to-day tasks. It is not surprising that many people affected by hearing loss wonder if they will still be able to drive if they have hearing loss.
Hearing and Driving
Many senses come into play when you get behind the wheel. Your sense of sight and hearing are important for driving. Your sense of hearing will help you detect the warning horn of another driver approaching you. It will help you know to give way when an emergency vehicle is approaching. It can also help you to detect problems with the vehicle while driving.
The sense of hearing is one important part of your observational skills while driving. However, being affected by hearing loss does not mean that you can no longer drive. A recent study showed that people with hearing loss are in fact more likely to be more visually observant than those that have not been affected by hearing loss. This group of people tends to drive more cautiously because of their hearing loss. They are more likely to drive at lower speeds and use their side mirrors and other aids more to make up for their loss of hearing.
Are Deaf Drivers Considered Impaired?
There is a difference between people with significant hearing loss and people that are deaf. People with mild to severe hearing loss can in fact drive like those with normal hearing. These people can make use of hearing aids to help enhance their hearing and thus improve their driving experience.
A deaf person is unable to hear sounds. These people wouldn’t be able to hear a siren or other sounds around them. However, you can drive if you are deaf. In fact, a study showed that deaf drivers are not at higher risk of being involved in an accident than those that can hear.
If you suffer from hearing loss and are concerned about driving, there are several things you can do to improve safety while driving:
- Get your vision checked as you will be relying more on your sight than on your hearing while driving
- Reduce distractions while driving e.g. keep your mobile phone out of sight
- Visit an audiologist to have your hearing checked and to determine whether you are a good candidate for hearing aids and other technology to improve your hearing.