Experts have warned today that driving a convertible car can seriously damage your health. It is claimed that cruising with the top down on your convertible at speeds of 50-70mph exposes the ears to sound levels sometimes nearing those made by a pneumatic drill. ENT experts were also told that long or repeated exposure to the noise of the engine, road, traffic and wind could cause permanent hearing loss. It has been suggested that convertible car drivers should consider wearing some form of ear protection as motorcyclists do.
The research has been published in the journal Otolaryngology (Head and Neck Surgery). The study measured noise levels to the left and right of the driver while travelling at different speeds. At 50, 60 and 70 miles per hour the noise reached between 88 90 decibels which is higher than the generally agreed 85 decibel threshold level at which permanent hearing damage becomes a risk.
The test was repeated with a range of convertible cars on the same stretch of motorway outside the rush hour and the noise levels were found to be the same between 90 and 99 decibels. The noise can be cut drastically if the motorist drives with the windows up.
Dr Mark Downs, of the Royal National Institute for Deaf People, said: "Noise-induced hearing loss is frequently preventable.”Regular exposure to noise levels of 88-90 decibels when driving a convertible for several hours a day can lead to permanent hearing loss over time. "By winding up the windows or wearing basic ear protection, such as earplugs, drivers of convertibles can still enjoy driving whilst protecting their hearing."