Study: Your convertible could be damaging your hearing

BMW 6-Series Convertible

Thinking of buying a convertible? You may want to reconsider the move. According to a study by The Journal of Laryngology and Otology, by Cambridge University Press, driving convertible cars with the top down at speeds of more than 55 mph may put drivers at increased risk of noise-induced hearing loss. The study was conducted on behalf of JLO Ltd from the Saint Louis University School of Medicine, Missouri and The Ear Institute of Texas, San Anton.

Researchers used five different make and models and found that sound level measurements in 80 percent of the vehicles at 55 mph with the top down had sound recordings greater than 85 decibels. According to the U.S. based National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, exposure to noise above 85 decibels for long periods is not recommended.

Bumping the speed up to 75 mph inflected the driver of a convertible car with 89.9 decibels.

“Not only was the mean noise exposure excessive with the top open, but the driver was also exposed to extreme noise ‘spikes’ while driving on the highway; for example, when driving next to a motorcycle or lorry,” Cambridge University Press said in a statement. “The study was undertaken using a sound level meter operated by a passenger in each car tested. The passenger took a series of between eight to ten sound level measurements at various points in the journey from the position of the driver’s left ear, at various speeds.”

During the study, the car radio was turned off, there was no conversation between passengers, air conditioning was off and the horn was not used.

“When the convertible automobiles were driven with the top open, high levels of noise were consistently recorded,” said Dr A A Mikulec from the Saint Louis University School of Medicine, who oversaw the study.” Although driving for short distances under such levels of noise exposure is unlikely to cause a significant degree of noise-induced hearing loss, our study demonstrates that long duration driving at high speeds with the convertible top open will increase the driver’s risk of hearing damage.”

Mikulec said that it is recommended that drivers drive with the top closed when traveling at speeds more than 53 mph.

– By: Omar Rana