As an adult, did you know that if you’ve been driving with the windows down for most of your life, you’ve been very slowly giving yourself hearing loss?
In a recent study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Audiology, it was found that individuals who drive with windows down for more than an hour daily are three times as likely to have hearing loss.
One study we found by Henry Ford Hospital Department of Otolaryngology states that cyclists are exposed to 85 decibels of wind resistance at 15 MPH and to 120 decibels at 60 MPH.
So this further validates that driving with the windows down can increase you risk factor of developing noise-induced hearing loss, as a car has more wind resistance than a bicycle.
The average decibel level for traveling down the highway in a vehicle with the windows down is between 90–115 decibels!
Did you know that if you are being exposed to noise levels over 100 decibels, you can experience permanent damage in less than 15 minutes?
To avoid hearing loss you want to try to spend most time in environments where sounds are 70 bBA or below. Frequent noise exposure beyond 85 dBA is much more likely to lead to hearing damage over time.
With so many drivers on the road it’s important to know how to reduce your risk of hearing loss when you’re behind the wheel.
How to reduce hearing loss when driving?
Here are three tips to preserve your health and overall wellbeing, by reducing your risk of developing driving-related hearing loss:
1. Choose a hybrid, electric car, or vehicle with a 4-cylinder engine
It may seem fairly obvious but these cars tend to be quieter and generate less road noise, when compared to something like a Ford F-150 or a Mclaren Spider.
Hybrid cars have been shown to reduce the level of noise pollution inside a car because they use an electric motor. They can also save you money on gas!
2. Keep your windows up
There are various studies that show that keeping the windows up reduces the likelihood of developing hearing loss related to driving. If you’re driving a car with a loud engine, especially at higher speeds, it can cause your ears to ring or feel like they are buzzing from the noise. Inducing hearing loss is not only caused by high decibels, but also by prolonged exposure to noise. In other words, if you’re driving for just 20 minutes or so with the windows down and then keep them there for 2 hours of freeway driving during rush hour traffic during the work week, that’s something to consider.
It’s OK to get some fresh air, but if you’re on a long-distance journey, take regular breaks and switch things up between having the windows open and closed.
If you drive a convertible or something like a jeep wrangler, you can reduce your risk by keeping the side windows rolled up even if your top is down. This reduces your noise exposure quite a bit!
And if you drive a motorcycle, consider investing in helmet muffs that will reduce your noise exposure.
3. Reduce the volume of your music
Because road noise is already a factor, listening to music while driving can further exacerbate things. This is because people tend to crank the volume. If the highway is already noisy, and you are turning up the volume so you can hear your music better, then this means the music has to be louder than the road noise. This is putting you into dangerous territory when it comes to potential damaging noise exposure.
Whatever you do, please don’t try to cut down on the annoyance of road noise by turning upt he volume. Not only does this increase your risk of hearing loss, it makes it more difficult for you to hear important environmental cues that will ensure your safety on the road.
Driving is an inevitable part of daily life for most adults, and something many of us have never stopped to think about as it relates to hearing loss. These are just a few habits you can consider adjusting for better long-term healthy hearing.
In summary, if you’ve been driving in conditions that have increased your risk factor of developing hearing loss, we encourage you to visit us at Centers for Hearing care to establish a baseline with your hearing. Your hearing is an important sense that can easily be lost or damaged without you even realizing it. Thats what it’s vital to schedule a hearing test, which can help detect and prevent hearing loss before it worsens. Don’t let your hearing decline until it’s too late.