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 be aware of a significant risk: research has linked this exhilarating hobby to permanent hearing damage.

A comprehensive study done by a notable German automobile association in partnership with a manufacturer of hearing protection solutions evaluated the effect of riding time and motorcycle speed on hearing health. The results were alarming: bikers can suffer permanent hearing damage after only 15 minutes of riding without earplugs at a speed of 62 mph.

Why do bikers get hearing loss?

While the concept of hearing loss may not be surprising, the leading culprit could. The biggest threat isn’t the raging engine, contrary to the common belief, it’s actually the wind. Even though helmets offer significant protection from injury during crashes, the research highlights that they fall short in protecting the rider’s hearing. Improvements to the helmet, such as additional padding, vents, or weather stripping, do little to mitigate the wind noise swirling around the rider.

Bikers are often impacted by a condition known as temporary threshold shift (TTS), which is triggered by regular exposure to extreme noise levels. TTS is a progressive condition, meaning the more you are exposed to loud noises, the worse the symptoms can get. People who are dealing with TTS may begin to detect that their hearing is less clear or other minor symptoms. But permanent hearing loss can, over time, be the outcome.

How do other noises compare to wind noise?

The German study sheds a lot of light on just how severe wind noise can get while riding. The wind noise around a rider’s head can be as high as 95 (dB) at 62 mph. For context, European Union (EU) law mandates that workers need to protect their ears if exposed to volume levels higher than 80 dB. Bikers are experiencing noise levels up to 19% higher than safe working environments when riding at this speed.

As the speed increases, so does the volume level. Hearing damage can take place after only 7 minutes of riding at 74 mph which produces wind volumes of 98 dB. Many studies confirm that bikers are indeed at substantial risk of permanent hearing loss.

How to protect your hearing

Fortunately, safeguarding your hearing while riding is both simple and effective: use earplugs. Hearing specialists emphatically recommend utilizing filtered earplugs, which are far better than the old, uncomfortable versions many are familiar with. Filtered earplugs are a more advanced model that filters out high frequencies like wind while allowing lower frequencies to get through. It’s important for bikers to still be able to hear important sounds like human voices, sirens, and car horns.

Bikers are also able to get the complete experience of riding without feeling isolated or cut off from the outside world which can’t be said for the old traditional style. You can protect your ears from harmful wind noise while still experiencing the thrill of the ride by making use of 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. The wind noise created at high speeds can cause substantial and irreversible hearing damage in a really short time. However, with the simple addition of quality earplugs, bikers can continue to enjoy their rides while protecting their long-term hearing health.

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.