Driving with hearing loss is not illegal. People who are deaf or hard of hearing can get a drivers license at 16 just like anyone else. However, like many other activities for people with hearing loss some extra precautions should be taken.
Driving is mainly done with your eyes, but your hearing is a big help too. Your ears can alert you to danger before you see it. The inability to hear high-pitched tones, like sirens from emergency vehicles, or railroad signs or horns of other vehicles can put you and others on the road at risk. It takes the full range of your hearing to be able to identify a sound and decide where it is coming from. One nice thing about emergency vehicles is that they are required by law to have their lights on whenever their siren is going. You may be able to see them coming before you hear them.
Other experiences in the car do not come with bright flashing warning lights. For example, you are backing out of parking spot and another car honks to let you know they are coming. You don’t hear the honk and you can’t see them coming. This is a good recipe for an accident. Unfortunately for those with hearing loss it is usually our hearing that alerts us to danger in the car before we can see it.
Another aspect of driving that can cause the hard of hearing problems is warning sounds inside your car. The ding of the seatbelt warning, an improperly closed door, or the keys left in the ignition. These are not the most dangerous situations, but they will definitely cause a headache when you realize your keys are locked in your car.
Hearing Aids Help
The best option for keeping yourself and others on the road safe while driving with hearing loss, is to wear your hearing aids in the car. In the past hearing aid wearers have complained the noise of the moving vehicle is annoying. Hearing aid companies worked to remedy this. The latest technology in Southwestern’s hearing aids manages and filters out those noises. Some hearing aids even come with the option of a driving memory. Wearing your hearing aid in the car will help you detect an approaching emergency vehicle, hear a honking horn and when you’ve left your blinker on.