Motorcycle Helmets May Cause Hearing Loss
A lot of riders chose to wear helmets in order to be safe on the road. But a new study shows that helmets may not be as safe as we think. Helmets may do a good job at protecting our skulls from impact, but at the same time, they could be damaging our hearing.
The "Aeroacoustic Sources of Motorcycle Helmet Noise" study, which was published in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, found that the noise inside of your helmet can reach dangerous levels, even while driving at legal speeds.
Researchers from the University of Bath placed helmets on mannequins and placed them in a wind tunnel. The researchers measured the noise of the wind at different points in and around the helmet.
"Intuitively it is clear that wearing a motorcycle helmet will change the way in which people perceive sounds," the study reads. "There are both engineering and psychology aspects to understanding this process."
The researchers found that the opening at the chin of a full-face helmet was the main source of noise. The researchers also looked at how speed, helmet angle, and venting affected the noise level.
The study could help improve helmets so that motorcyclists can ride safely without worrying about the constant din of the wind. But for the time being, you should probably just wear ear plugs.
"Motorcycling is a complex task requiring an awareness of the riding environment," the report reads. "Sounds provide important feedback to enable the rider to respond appropriately to their surroundings. Our research is part of a wider project with the goal of protecting rider hearing health while insuring their ability to hear important sounds such as sirens, warning signals."
Ear plugs have long been promoted as a desirable choice to help protect a rider’s hearing. Experts note, while they block out a lot of noise, they don’t impair a rider's ability to hear traffic and other important sounds. Many riders have worn them routinely for years, and the study's findings suggest that that's a very good idea. Researchers were clear that they believe riders who wear helmets reduce their risk of skull fractures and fatal accidents.