According to new research, it turns out that spending lots of time riding around with the top down doesn’t just put your hairdo at risk. A study presented at a meeting of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation this week in San Diego finds that regularly riding in a convertible without any ear protection can expose people to harmful levels of sound, and even result in some hearing loss. By measuring intensity of sound while driving at speeds from 50 to 80 miles per hour, researchers recorded consistent exposure to noise as loud as 99 decibels. Regular exposure to sounds higher than 85 decibels has been shown to cause permanent hearing loss.
The quality of the road, driving speed, and other factors were taken into account, as was whether the driver was riding with the windows up or down, where there was some good news—simply by raising the windows, noise levels were reduced to safer levels of 82 decibels or less, the researchers found.