The phenomenon of hearing is examined to show that motorcycle helmets do not reduce auditory capability to a level unsafe for driving. The noise generated by the motorcycle itself (or wind, at higher speeds) is so great that any sound loud enough to penetrate this noise is loud enough to be heard inside a helmet. Basic human auditory capability and the direct effect of helmets on the auditory threshold are discussed. The effect of ambient noise on the auditory performance is also analyzed. Graphs are provided for: human auditory Sensitivity to sounds of different frequencies; a comparison of average sound attenuation characteristics of automobile (windows up) and protective helmets; a comparison of age-related heavy loss (ages 46-55) and temporary hearings loss from wearing protective helmets; the auditory threshold for the 46-55 age group with and without protective helmets; a comparison of motorcycle noise at various speeds and auditory threshold of 46-55 age group with and without helmets; illustrations of the masking of an automobile horn and a seren by motorcycle noise; and horn audibility inside a passenger car. It is concluded that: safety helmets have an inconsequential auditory effect because they reduce the loudness of both the sound of interest and the motorcycle noise by an equal amount and hence do not alter the signal-to-noise ratio between the two; and a helmeted motorcycle rider can hear a sound of interest about as well as a person in an automobile with the windows closed. /Author/

Media Info

  • Features: Figures; References;
  • Pagination: 18 p.

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00164946
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: National Safety Council Safety Research Info Serv
  • Report/Paper Numbers: DOT HS-801759
  • Files: TRIS, USDOT
  • Created Date: Mar 7 1978 12:00AM