Driving With Hearing Loss: Can It Be Done?
Hearing is an important part of our daily communication and safety. Without hearing, we would not be able to hear hazards on the road. When driving, we must be able to hear sirens from emergency vehicles, warning signals (e.g. beeping), and your car indicator. While vision is vital for driving, hearing also plays an important role and you should do all that you can to ensure you are safe on the road. Do you have hearing loss? Take an online hearing test. Online hearing tests are a quick and easy way to detect hearing loss.
How Can Hearing Loss Affect Driving?
While vision is vital to be able to drive, hearing also plays a major role. If you have hearing loss, you may find it difficult to hear important sounds on the road, such as:
- Sirens from emergency vehicles (police, ambulance, fire brigade)
- Passengers in your car
- Police officers if you get pulled over
- Engine sounds if there is an issue with the car
- Warning signals (beeping horn) from other drivers
Not being able to hear these sounds can cause some people who have hearing loss stress.
If you have noticed any of these difficulties while driving, take an online hearing test to see if you have hearing loss. Online hearing tests are a quick and easy way to determine if you require further help.
Medical Standards for Licencing In Australia
In Australia, standards for driving with hearing loss do not exist for drivers of private vehicles, such as cars or motorcycles. However, there are standards for drivers of commercial vehicles, such as truck drivers, taxi drivers, and community transport divers. These drivers must undergo an assessing fitness to drive test, which involves other health tests, too.
Standards for drivers of commercial vehicles require a full hearing test and assessment to be completed if your doctor assesses you and suspects a hearing loss.
This test will involve an audiologist assessing your hearing, middle ear status, and speech discrimination. They will then use government criteria, which looks at the average of the hearing loss in the better ear (and whether it falls within a certain range), to determine whether you are able to have an unconditional licence or require a conditional licence. If your hearing loss meets the criteria, you will be eligible for an unconditional licence. If it does not meet the criteria, then you may be able to get a conditional licence where you will need to wear hearing aids. You will also need to have regular hearing test and hearing aid reviews.
Even though there aren’t any standards for driving with hearing loss for drivers of private vehicles, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be careful and safe. If you have never had your hearing tested, it is worth having an online hearing test to check for hearing loss.
What’s Involved In An Online Hearing Test
If you currently drive and are interested, take an online hearing test to see whether you have hearing loss. Online hearing tests are quick, painless, easy, and the results are available on the spot.
Online hearing tests require you to have a pair of headphones. Because everyone has different headphones, the online hearing test will have a section where sound volume is adjusted. The online hearing test may ask you to provide information about your age, gender, or whether you currently wear any hearing aids. You will then begin.
You will be presented with a series of sounds and asked to respond (by clicking a button or pressing a key) whenever you hear it. The test will run for a short time, usually only a few minutes.
Following the test, you will receive your results. They often indicate either a pass or fail using a set criteria. If you receive a fail result on an online hearing test, you should have a full assessment at Attune.
It is important to remember that online hearing tests are just used as a screening tool to detect the presence or absence of a hearing loss. It is also important to follow up online hearing tests with a full audiological assessment carried out by a qualified audiologist for accurate results if you have any doubt.
Treating Your Hearing Loss
If you’ve completed an online hearing test and it has detected that you have a hearing loss, it’s important to have your hearing fully checked by an audiologist. Your audiologist will conduct a more thorough test to determine your hearing thresholds. If a hearing loss is present, your audiologist may discuss treatment options, such as hearing aids.
Treating your hearing loss with hearing aids is one of the best ways to do so as they help with everyday communication as well as driving. Hearing aids will allow you to hear sounds while driving that you may have been missing. When fitted with hearing aids, people often report hearing the car indicator, radio, passengers, engine sounds, and emergency vehicles again.
By getting hearing aids, you are ensuring that you and others are more safe on the roads as you will be able to hear important sounds while driving. If you think you may be driving with hearing loss, take an online hearing test today.
How You Can Drive Safely with Hearing Loss
While there are no standards for driving with hearing loss for drivers of private vehicles, there are some things that you can do to ensure you are safe on the roads, including:
- If you have difficulty hearing or suspect a hearing loss, take an online hearing test to determine if a loss is present. If the online hearing test indicates a hearing loss, book an appointment with your local audiologist to determine the extent of your hearing loss. Following this, your audiologist will discuss hearing aids with you if they are appropriate. If yes, your new hearing aids will help you hear hazards, emergency vehicles, warning signs, and car indicators.
- Get regular hearing assessments and hearing aid reviews to ensure your hearing aids are working properly.
- If you have battery powered hearing aids, make sure you have a packet of spare batteries with you. If your hearing aids are rechargeable, make sure they have been fully charged the night before.
- Turn down the radio so you can hear the sounds around you.
- Close your windows so road noise is not too loud.
- Use your vision alongside your hearing, scan your mirrors more frequently and keep an eye out for flashing lights.
In a Nutshell
Hearing plays an important role in driving, so hearing loss can have an impact on driving. Medical standards exist for drivers of commercial vehicles but not private vehicles. Despite this, you can ensure you are safe on the roads. You can do this by:
- Completing an online hearing test
- Following up with an audiologist assessment
- Treating your hearing loss with hearing aids
There are also many other ways to make sure you are safe on the road driving with hearing loss.
So, if you have difficulty driving with hearing loss, take an online hearing test or book an appointment with one of our audiologists at Attune for a hearing test. A hearing test is the first step to ensure you are safe on the roads.