Convertibles could damage your hearing

* Top-down driving is too noisy * Consider wearing ear protection * Keep windows raised...

Convertibles could damage your hearing
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What Car? Staff
8 Oct 2009 10:55

Your hearing could be permanently damaged if you drive a convertible, according to research in the US.

Driving with a 'pneumatic drill'
At speeds of 50-70mph, the volume of the engine-, wind- and road noise inside a convertible gets close to the sound levels made by a pneumatic drill.

To avoid permanent hearing loss, drivers should consider wearing ear protection, say the experts.

Convertibles exceed safe noise levels
The study found that at 50-, 60- and 70mph, the noise levels in a convertible reached 90 decibels. It's generally accepted that permanent hearing damage occurs when noise levels exceed 85 decibels.

Hearing damage can build up gradually and not become apparent until years later, when it's too late to reverse the problem.

Save your ears
Closing the car's windows while driving with the roof down keeps things quieter, and in the tests reduced the noise level to a safer 82 decibels.

Decibel heaven of hell?
So, how loud is your convertible? Compare it with these everyday noise levels.

• 10 decibels - Breathing
• 15 decibels - A soft whisper in someone's ear
• 30 decibels - Quiet rural area; quiet library
• 50 decibels - Quiet suburb; conversation at home; private office
• 60 decibels - Normal conversation (3-5 feet); sewing machine; typewriter
• 75 decibels - Typical car interior on A road
• 80 decibels - Dustbin lorry; dishwasher; average factory
• 85 decibels - City traffic (inside car)
• 90 decibels - Power drill permanent damage after 8 hours continual exposure
• 92 decibels Clarinet; oboe at 10 feet
• 100 decibels - Jet take-off 1000 feet; outboard motor; farm tractor
• 110 decibels Chainsaw; typical rock concert
• 130 decibels - Jet take-off (300 feet)
• 155 decibels - Shot from a handgun (.38 or .44) at 1 foot
• 180 decibels - Jet engine at 1 foot resulting in immediate tissue death in ear
• 194 decibels - Air particle distortion (sonic boom)