What are some tips you’d offer to someone hearing impaired while driving?

Hello everyone. Hope you all are having a great Sunday evening.

I’ve become profoundly deaf over the years which has both had a negative and positive impact on my ability to operate a motor vehicle. .

My situational awareness since becoming deaf in both ears due to a medical condition has drastically improved, for example.

My eyes tend to do a lot more work than normal and I use extra caution traveling through intersections, which has saved my life a few times when other drivers chose to run their red light.

However, despite becoming more alerted since both ears went deaf, I’ve ran into scary situations a few times that could have resulted in heavy fines.

For example: Last two years ago emergency vehicles ( fire trucks, ambulances, and police cars ) were inconvenienced by me for not hearing their sirens when they approached me from behind.

I make it a habit to periodically check the rear view mirror but being a human there are times I go a full length of time without checking because I simply forgot to.

The rear view mirror in the car is huge enough to pick up any thing that is going on behind me but for whatever reason my eyes aren’t looking into the mirror at all times. I guess they’re busy scanning the road ahead of me and such.

True, I still can hear sounds but it depends on how bad my tinnitus is bothering me on a particular day.

What are some tips you’d offer to someone deaf when it comes to driving safely on the road ?

Thank you.

If you don’t have hearing aids, get them. Try Costco. If you do have them, make sure your audiologist turns on the tinnitus masker. It works. If all of this is no help, have you checked out cochlear implants?


Make it a habit to check all of the time. I am constantly vigilant of what is both ahead of me and behind me - and all around me. Keeping track of the sides and the rear does not detract from keeping track of what is in front. You watch them all, all of the time.

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I tried the hearing aids about 10 years ago for less than an hour. I had to throw them away. They made my head feel like they were gonna explode every time they picked up sounds. They also negatively affected my ability to drive; they kept frightening me and I would jump every time.

I also discussed having cochlear implant but my doctor said there was a risk associated with it ( brain infection) and I could become mentally dysfunctional if that was the case.

So I refused it and focused on learning ASL.

My situation is very rare and my doctor agreed that it’s best I live without hearing aids. The tinnitus, however, is extremely annoying and bothersome.

As someone that used to install and have very load sound systems and could not hear anything outside the car when the volume was turn up (many years ago), as well as enjoys higher speeds, you HAVE to almost have one eye on the road ahead and one scanning the mirrors to make sure you know where every vehicle is close to you and coming up, as well as LEO’s and other EMS vehicles… This should be applied to anyone not able to hear…
When you can bounce a quarter off your your trunk from the sound system (not rap music either, And Justice for All, by Metallica on a great sound system is awesome), you can not hear anything else while driving either… so not much different then being def as far as hearing EMS vehicle…

Sorry about the hearing impairment which you are conquering through greater visual awareness.

In FirEMS I have always driven emergencyehicles expecting deaf drivers and drivers deafened by excellent stereo systems in vehicles sound-proofed better than ever.
Does anyone remember Ford’s “Quiet by Ford” TV advertisements?

At new green signals, I quickly glance left, then proceed glancing right in case someone is running their red signal.

If I see cars not proceeding when the traffic signal turns green, aside from drivers looking at their cellphones, it may be an EV approaching.
When I see vehicles stopping for no apparent reason, it may be because of an approaching emergencyehicle.

When I am driving emergently I am looking for responding emergencyehicles and keep driver
window open 1/2-inch to hear other EVs.

Regarding the hearing impairment, would strict fasting do any good?
When I had some tinnitus, if I consumed nothing but water for up the 48 and 72 hours, the tinnitus diminished or went away completely.

My eyesight also improved to where I did not need reading glasses to focus close up!

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Great tips, Robert! Thank you.

I watch out especially for EV at intersections due to my hearing loss. And the people behind me usually get mad as a result because they want to just go go go.

I understand though because them having the ability to hear makes things easier for them, and they’re probably thinking I’m distracted using the phone or something.

I don’t know that such a thing exists, but I can imagine a sensor for emergency vehicle sirens, lights, that would light up a warning on your dash.

I’ve had tinnitus for 20 years. It used to bug me. I can’t hear the range of musical tones that it makes. I have a pure tone generator on my computer (not notes). I thought it was broken, had to record the sound with a microphone and analyze it with Audacity to see that it really worked at those frequencies. Some European researchers claimed success with training with music that had the tinnitus’s frequencies removed. I made a notch filter for that range, filtered them out for a bunch of Bach I liked, listened for a few hours every day. I noticed no difference.

Such a device would be incredibly helpful.

Some municipalities have the Opticom® Traffic Signal Preemption System.
It senses the precise 14 flashes-per-second from what used to be a Xenon flash tube in cooling oil
in the emitter atop the emergency vehicle. Now LEDs.

Opticom would cause the traffic signal to cycle as usual but giving the emergencyehicle (and everyone behind!) a green through-signal and left and right turn arrows if any. (Loved it. Paid for itself in brake wear! and helped prevent collisions of drivers unexpectedly slowing and stopping and being hit from behind.)

It appears that the rapidly flashing white LED lamps in our light bar is causing some Opticom systems to activate, though they should not because the flashing is not precise.
Other Opticom systems now require an encoded flash pattern to prevent people from using their own emitters to change traffic signals.

I assumed there must be a phone app for this by now, but I don’t see anything in Google Play after a cursory search. Maybe an enterprising app developer should give this a shot.

I see that stickers and decals are available to indicate that a driver is hard-of-hearing. Something like that on your car could help to defuse situations like that.


I like the idea. I wonder though if doing this would make me a target ? Maybe a car theft would feel more confident targeting my car ?

I try not to bring attention to myself but , yes, I see how placing such a decal on my car could help.

Others covered it but in our elderly driving classes, we were instructed that we should be checking the mirror about every 7 seconds. Eye looking around. Hard to do but you’ll see flashing lights way back. In addition they will
Take the left lane unless it is obstructed. Yeah the former Buick dealer finally got the implant. No perfect but can hear a little now.

I recently completed the AARP’s online Defensive Driving course, and they advise looking at all of one’s mirrors every 5-8 seconds in order to prevent “surprises” of an unfortunate nature. I can’t post their instructional video, but here is something from Canada that states the same thing:

You need to make the checking of your mirrors–as described above–a habit if you want to avoid an accident that could be prevented by simply being more observant via your mirrors.

As a follow-up, here is some excellent advice regarding how one’s mirrors should be positioned. (Hint: if you can see any part of your car’s body when looking in the side-view mirrors, then they are NOT positioned correctly)

And if checking the mirrors frequently would seem to interfere with watching the road ahead, remember that each ‘check’ is more of a ‘glance’. You don’t need to stare at each mirror to know what’s going on, a quick glance will be enough.


While driving, one’s eyes should–more or less–be constantly moving. The driver should be looking at the road ahead–obviously–but very frequent quick glances at all of one’s mirrors is almost as important, and then let’s not forget about the importance of glancing at the instrument panel/gauges/warning lights occasionally.

A segment from ‘Morning edition’ about a new therapy for tinnitus: An FDA approved device offers a new treatment for ringing in the ears : Shots - Health News : NPR

Here’s the paper to which I referred in my previous message: https://www.pnas.org/doi/abs/10.1073/pnas.0911268107 .

A search turned up many other papers about the therapy, which I haven’t read.

‘A new cloud-based feature on more than 1.8 million Chrysler, Dodge, Ram and Jeep brand vehicles lets drivers know about the presence of emergency vehicles ahead before they can even see them.’:

Tesla is rolling out the ability to detect emergency vehicles

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If someone uses the free Waze app on their smartphone, that feature notifies you of a vehicle stopped on the shoulder ahead, as well as “police reported ahead”. I like those notifications, but the bad news is that someone else who uses the Waze app had to take his attention away from his/her driving task in order to let Waze know about these situations.