Do You Need Your Hearing Aids to Drive?

This article I wrote for Hearing Tracker is about driving with hearing loss. What do you think? Do you need your hearing aids to drive? 

In several states, we will need to upgrade our driver’s licenses to a federal Real ID by October 2020. Since my license was up for renewal, I decided to get a jumpstart on this and made an appointment at my local DMV. I was dreading the visit — hours of boredom standing in lines, the worry that I would not hear my name when it was called, and of course the photo — but I did not expect any thought-provoking questions. Filling out the forms in advance, one of the questions got me thinking. It asked, “Do you need a hearing aid to drive a motor vehicle?”

There was also a question about corrective lenses/glasses, but that was easy. While I can make it to the bathroom and back in the middle of the night without putting on my glasses, I would never attempt to run an errand to the store, let alone get behind the wheel of a car without them. I certainly need my lenses/glasses to drive.

But what about the hearing aid question. Did I need my hearing aids to drive? They certainly are helpful to hear honks, sirens, and cars passing and I do always wear them when I drive, but I don’t think they are required. Most of the driving cues are visual — things like brake lights, turn signals, and traffic signs. With the radio blasting, I doubt people with typical hearing gather many clues from the sounds around them while driving either. My hearing aids are a nice to have, not a must have when behind the wheel. I confidently checked “No,” but promised myself to wear them anyway. They certainly couldn’t hurt.


To read more about safe driving with hearing loss, click here to continue reading on Hearing Tracker.

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4 thoughts on “Do You Need Your Hearing Aids to Drive?

  1. Great article, thanks! I am wondering if your sense of car location or shape has ever been thrown off if not wearing your hearing aids? One late night recently I had to drive my tired self out for a necessary grocery run. I had already removed my hearing aids to wash my face, so went without when I left the house. As I drove away from the store, I turned to leave the almost deserted parking lot and caught the side of my car on the concrete surround of one of the parking lot light fixtures. It was such a shock. Later I thought about how I didn’t have a clear sensation of “placement” that night without my ha’s. Is this unusual?

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a passionate hearing health advocate and internationally recognized author and speaker on hearing loss issues. She is the founder of Living with Hearing Loss, a popular blog and online community for people with hearing loss, and an executive producer of "We Hear You," an award-winning documentary about the hearing loss experience. Her book, "Hear & Beyond: Live Skillfully with Hearing Loss," (co-authored with Gael Hannan) is the ultimate survival guide to living well with hearing loss. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, she will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      I’m not sure. I find being without my hearing aids to be disorienting so maybe it was because of that. Thanks for your comment.

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