Wear Your Motorcycle Helmet And Go Deaf As A Post – New Studies Suggest Motorcycle Helmets Could Cause Hearing Loss
Would you rather be dead, deaf or ticketed every hundred miles?
The debate over riding with a helmet – or without one – just got a little more subtle.
The decision about whether or not to wear a helmet while riding is made for you in most states in the US, but now you have yet another consideration to take into account regardless of where you live.
A new group of studies published by The Journal Of The Acoustical Society Of America warn that your helmet, though it may protect your brain from being pounded into mush in an accident, may also contribute to you losing your hearing.
A Hobson’s Choice if ever there was one.
The results of those studies indicate that the most dangerous noise you’ll encounter on your ride comes not from the mighty roar of your engine or your super-load pipes, but from the noise above 500 Hz and below 500 Hz which is filtered and amplified by wind rushing around and through your helmet. The studies say that even legal speeds can create conditions which make noise levels exceed safe regions.
To test the basic premise of this finding, scientists placed motorcycles helmets on mannequin heads mounted in a wind tunnel and cranked the fans up to eleven. When they placed microphones on different locations around the helmets and near the mannequin’s ear, those researchers found enough racket to result in “temporary hearing threshold shifts.” That effect is akin to what happens to your hearing after you attend a rock and roll show where the volume reaches airport-runway-like levels.
The findings suggest (and the testing was done with and without helmets on the mannequins), that the threshold shift “is a function of the filter characteristics of the helmet, including an increased sensitivity at higher frequencies.”
There are a whole range of “noise transmission characteristics” which have been found detrimental to hearing when scientists analyze the effect of wearing a motorcycle helmet , but suffice it to say this is the real deal.
According to the latest research, a helmet acts as a “frequency dependent filter on the input to the human auditory system,” and that means essentially that it has the potential to seriously damage your hearing in a way going without one will not.
Does that mean you’re better off not wearing a helmet? Not a chance.
It does mean you have one more factor to consider when you’re buying a helmet, and if the research is correct, it’s one you had better pay attention to if you wish to fully enjoy listening to music or hearing your dog bark to get out to take care of his business…
What can you do? Listen to John Wakefield the Managing Director of Phoenix Distribution, the leading importers of Arai helmets into the United Kingdom. He has some tips on how to lower the noise you can actually hear, but will that have any effect on the noise levels which damage your hearing?
Your guess is as good as ours…
Our advice is to wear earplugs if you’re worried about hearing loss, and listen to your iPod at full volume wearing ear buds if for some reason you have things you just plain don’t want to hear ever again.
Choosing a helmet is a practical concern and an expression of your personal style.
You’ve got a load of thinking to do on this score, and the array of choices from manufacturers like, Shoei, Arai, Icon, Scorpion, Skid Lid, Thor and Bell makes choosing the right one a daunting task.
Here’s a list of the types of helmets you may which to consider, and here’s a more in-depth analysis of the pros and cons of each type:
- Full-Face Helmets
- Open-Face Helmets
- Flip-Up Helmets
- Motocross Helmets