Motorcycle Riders Have a Higher Risk of Hearing Loss

woman on motorcycle with helmet on.

Motorcycle enthusiasts often mention the thrill of speed and the love for the open road as the driving force behind their passion. However, if you’re an avid rider, you should know about a substantial risk: research has linked this exhilarating hobby to irreversible hearing damage.

An in depth study carried out by a notable German automobile association in collaboration with a maker of hearing protection solutions examined the impact of riding duration and motorcycle speed on hearing health. The conclusions were startling: bikers can suffer permanent hearing damage after just 15 minutes of riding without earplugs at a speed of 62 mph.

Why do bikers get hearing loss?

While the idea of hearing loss might not come as a complete surprise, the leading culprit could. The greatest threat isn’t the roaring engine, contrary to the common belief, it’s really the wind. The research emphasized that although helmets offer crucial protection during accidents, they fall short in safeguarding a biker’s hearing. Enhancements to the helmet, like added padding, vents, or weather stripping, do little to mitigate the wind noise whirling around the rider.

Motorcyclists are often impacted by a condition called temporary threshold shift (TTS), which is triggered by regular exposure to extreme noise levels. TTS is a progressive condition, meaning the more you’re exposed to loud noises, the worse the symptoms can become. Individuals who are dealing with TTS might start to notice that their hearing is less clear or other minor symptoms. However, over time, this condition can progress to permanent and irreversible hearing loss.

How do other noises compare to wind noise?

To comprehend the severity of wind noise while riding, the German study’s conclusions are illuminating. At 62 mph, the wind around a biker’s head generates noise levels reaching 95 decibels (dB). For context, European Union (EU) law mandates that workers must safeguard their ears if exposed to volume levels exceeding 80 dB. This means that bikers traveling at this speed without hearing protection are exposed to volume levels nearly 19% higher than what is deemed safe in a work environment.

As the speed increases, so does the volume level. Hearing damage can take place after just 7 minutes of riding at 74 mph which generates wind volumes of 98 dB. Other studies validate these findings, suggesting that bikers are indeed at a substantial risk of hearing loss.

Protecting your ears

Luckily, it’s easy to protect your hearing with earplugs. Hearing specialists strongly recommend making use of filtered earplugs, which are far better than the old, uncomfortable versions most people are familiar with. These advanced earplugs are manufactured to safeguard your eardrums from high-frequency noises like wind while still allowing lower frequency sounds to penetrate. It’s important for bikers to still be able to hear important sounds like human voices, emergency warning sounds, and car horns.

Moreover, these modern earplugs allow bikers to enjoy the sensations of riding without feeling isolated or numb, a common disadvantage of older protective devices. You can protect your ears from damaging wind noise while still enjoying the thrill of the ride by using filtered earplugs.

It is possible to enjoy the excitement of speed and the freedom of the open road while still keeping your hearing safe from wind noise. Substantial and permanent hearing damage can be caused by the noise of wind at high speeds. But bikers can safeguard their long-term hearing while still enjoying the ride by simply making use of a pair of quality earplugs.

Stay on top of your hearing health by contacting us to discuss hearing protection.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.