I drove a car with window down for a few minutes, will that damage my hearing?

#1

I had to get some fresh air, So I recorded a timer for around 4-5 minutes of me driving with the window almost fully down, This road was not on a highway but a road with a 30 mph speed limit. I had no hearing protection during this time, will this permanently damage my hearing?

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#2

30 mph for a small number of minutes is probably not enough speed and time to be loud enough for long enough to be damaging.

If you’re worried how noisy your car is at what speed and you have a good quality, popular smartphone, you can probably find a utility app that will APPROXIMATELY measure the decibel level of your environment. Keep in mind the whole shebang is TOTALLY UNCALIBRATED and depends on the equipment in your phone performing according to its manufacturing specs. Even then, I read that smartphone microphones do not have good uniform sensitivity across the entire frequency range of sound to which the human ear is sensitive. If you have a friend or two with different smartphones, they could always install the same or other sound level apps and you all could compare notes to see if you get approximately the same sound level. There are also frequency spectrum analyzer apps available for smartphones that are fun to play around with. Tone generators, too - although watch it with those - I hurt my ears badly once by accidentally turning up the volume way too much!

The risk of wind noise/road noise is associated with HIGH SPEED DRIVING for some length of time.

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#3

I drive with my windows down at 30mph a lot of the time, it’s not really very noisy. Maybe if you were driving on the motorway it might be an issue as it’s much louder but I’d imagine it would still take more than 5 minutes to cause damage. It’s the general kind of sound that I don’t like with windows down at speed rather than the volume. If you google there are quite a lot of charts which tell you how long you can withstand different volumes before damage occurs

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#4

Loads and loads of people, hearing people, drive with their windows down all the time, even on fast roads. Even many lorry drivers chug along the motorways with windows down if they’re hot. (Or smoking!) They don’t complain of damaged hearing, why should it be any different for us deafies?

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#5

I’ve got an elderly friend who used to be a trucker. He’s now got old age hearing in his left ear and wears an open dome but on his right ear, he has to wear a mould and more powerful hearing aid. The audiologist told him it was because of having his window down all the time.

(In the UK, we drive on the left.)

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#6

Hmmmmm. I guess I would say I stand corrected then but a trucker with his window down all the time is a rather extreme case, one could expect some damage over time.

It’s not something I have to think about nor worry about really because my ears are constantly subjected to up to 132dB all day long, every day due to the power of my hearing aids. After all, I need it else I hear diddly squat.

(I know we drive on the left in the UK, I’m in the UK) :rofl:

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#7

Hey, Back in the Day, nobody had air conditioning in cars and we rode around with the windows down all the time when it wasn’t too cold outside.

Of course, none of us can hear for beans anymore, but what’s that got to do with it?? /heh/

Seriously, no, human hearing is not that delicate that riding in a car with an open window for a few minutes at 30 mph can cause any damage, unless you’re in a war zone or have some other extreme environmental hearing exposure.

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#8

I know you’re in the UK but this is a mainly an American forum so thought I would mention it!!

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#9

I drove with the windows down the first 20 years that I was driving. I also ride motorcycles. And even now with ac I will always have a window open some seeing I cannot stand to be in a stuffy environment. I have been told that my high frequencies are much better than most my age.

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#10

Wind noise is the predominant cause of hearing loss with motorcyclists:

http://www.hearingtestlabs.com/motorcycle.htm

A driver in a convertible with the top down or in a car with all the windows rolled down traveling at HIGH speed is just somewhat less exposed than a motorcyclist because the car windshield acts as a much better windscreen. Perhaps most folks have not tried driving at 75 mph (or more!) in a convertible or with all windows rolled down!

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#11

I will not worry about hearing loss from a driving a car at 30 mph for 4-5 minutes with windows down.

Combining the information from the two links, that Jim provides, I come to a conclusion:

You can tolerate 85 dB for up to 8 hours. You get 85 dB when you drive a convertible at 55mph.

Unless you have to drive a convertible (not even a passenger car with windows down) at 55 mph or faster for prolonged periods (up to 8 hours), I will not worry about permanent hearing damage.

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#12

My hearing loss was due to working on a flight line and flying in the cargo bays of cargo jets around the world, and I am sure some of it was weapons fire too. The weapons fire makes sense seeing my right ear is worse and I am a lefty. If it had been due to the windows down it would have been my left ear. And motorcycle riding wouldn’t count very much seeing I never rode fast or far. All rides at city limits speed, and with protective gear.

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#13

My ex father-in-law was a truck driver. Before AC he said it was common for truck drivers to go deaf in their left ear.

My advice is that if you are concerned about volume levels, get a sound level meter, set it on A weighted and slow response and measure.

It’s the only way to know how loud.

Bob

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