In many ways, a hearing impairment can create additional barriers when performing daily activities. This may also be the case with driving, but this topic has created somewhat of a divide in the medical community. Some researchers argue that a hearing impairment can cause an individual to overcompensate and be more cautious on the road. Others disagree with that assessment and claim that the ability to pick up on auditory cues plays a significant role when driving. The truth may lie somewhere in between.
A Swedish study showed that drivers with some degree of hearing loss were in no way at a greater risk of an accident than their counterparts. The research conducted actually suggested the opposite was true, and that the hearing impaired were more attentive to their surroundings than the other motorists. This has been disputed in other studies, which suggest hearing plays a key role in being able to react quickly to unexpected threats, such as a car zooming around a blind spot.
Still, driving requires more than being aware of what is happening outside of the car. When we consider the distractions that can occur in the vehicle, we are presented with a new set of challenges. Another study has shown that the hearing impaired have more difficulty driving when internal distractors are present. Listening to a person speaking in the passenger seat or trying to hear the voice of a navigational system can be more difficult for an individual with hearing loss and may therefore require more of their attention.
It seems contradictory that all of these viewpoints might be accurate; however, we have to keep in mind that each individual experiences hearing loss differently. So what may be true for one driver may not be true for another. If you experience some degree of hearing loss in Tucson or Green Valley, the best way to ensure your personal safety is to meet with an expert in audiology. Arizona Hearing Specialists can diagnose and treat your hearing loss according to your needs. Your hearing professional will determine if a hearing aid may benefit you. If you would like to learn more or want to find a qualified Tuscon audiology professional, contact our office at (520) 399-7630.