People with hearing loss in Louisville face a number of obstacles in their everyday routines. Conversations with others often prove difficulty, and public outings can be downright tiring when struggling to hear over noisy backgrounds. Another area that can prove problematic? Navigating the streets of Louisville. And that’s got nothing to do with traffic.
Navigating Busy Thoroughfares with Hearing Loss
Many people prepare a mental checklist before hitting the road. Their list includes the obvious: car keys, driver’s license, maps (though nowadays that is likely to be Google Maps). Those with a hearing impairment are advised to bring along – and wear – hearing aids before settling in behind the wheel.
Drivers rely on more than visual cues when navigating. Hearing is crucial in keeping you safe; it alerts you to emergency vehicle sirens, horns and shrieking passengers warning you that you should have taken the last exit! Hearing loss won’t interfere with your actual driving ability, but it can increase your risk of getting into an accident. To make sure you arrive at your destination safely, if you have hearing loss and are planning on driving, practice the following tips.
- Have your hearing loss treated. If you are suffering from a hearing impairment but have not yet sought treatment, schedule an appointment with your Louisville audiologist as soon as possible. Untreated hearing loss doesn’t only affect your driving; there are many associated health risks that you won’t want to ignore.
- Reduce distractions. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration attributes 3,500 traffic fatalities in 2016 and 390,000 injuries in 2015 to distracted driving. There are many potential distractions that can lead to accidents; adhering to the following strategies will help reduce your risk.
- Turn down the radio. Who doesn’t love cruising down the highway while their favorite tunes pump from the speakers? People who wreck their cars, that’s who. Loud music prevents you from concentrating on other sounds around you (and puts your remaining hearing ability at risk, too).
- Limit conversations. Nobody likes a “backseat driver” – even when they’re giving you instructions from the passenger seat. You’ve got a good excuse to ask them to hush: conversations divert your attention from the road, where it needs to be. Politely let others in the car know your (and their) safety demands you focus on the road rather than the latest gossip involving Mrs. Rosenthal down the street.
- Keep the windows closed. Fresh air is invigorating, but when you’re motoring down the freeway at 75 mph with the windows open, you are letting in an awful lot of road noise that can interfere with your ability to hear. Keep the windows closed and turn on the air-conditioning if it’s too warm. You can enjoy the fresh air and sunshine when you reach your destination.
- Put away your phone. Better yet, don’t even have it out to begin with. Cellphones are a leading cause of distracted driving and accidents. Kentucky’s laws are a little more lax than many states, but practice common sense when driving by only talking on the phone if your hearing aids have a hands-free Bluetooth® option – and never text while your vehicle is in motion. That one is on the books!
- Don’t neglect your vision. Good vision is always important when driving, but even more so when you have a hearing impairment. Be sure to have your vision checked once a year and if you have prescription lenses, wear them at all times. Other tips to help you see better when driving include:
- Buy a full-view rearview mirror. Some states, such as New York, require drivers with hearing loss to use a full-view rearview mirror. These won’t completely eliminate blind spots, but they do provide you with a wider field of vision and are pretty inexpensive.
- Take advantage of reflections. Here’s a fun life hack you have probably never even thought about: building windows and other reflective surfaces are great resources that can alert you to flashing lights from emergency vehicles and at railroad crossings. Make it a habit to glance at them periodically when driving in the city.
- Respect the law. You shouldn’t be speeding anyway, but if you’re a driver with hearing loss, it’s important to be extra cautious. If a law enforcement officer does pull you over, be sure to inform them that you are wearing hearing aids – not for sympathy, but to improve communication.
Your Louisville audiologist can provide you with plenty of tips to improve your safety while driving with hearing loss – don’t be afraid to reach out today!