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Press Release - 20 February 2007

Project to save motorcyclists from hearing damage begins

A new project which could save motorcyclists from hearing damage by designing better helmets has begun.

Research in the past few years has shown that 40 per cent of professional riders, such as police, paramedics, instructors and racers have incurred significant hearing loss from the noise created when air flows over their helmets.

The fear is that many ordinary motorcyclists who ride regularly are damaging their hearing too.

The team has begun the project by inviting motorcyclists to take part in a survey to give details of their riding, the type of equipment they use and their hearing. This will give the team an idea of how widespread the problem of hearing loss is among riders, before they begin to design a helmet that creates less noise when riding at speed.

The research project is being carried out by a team led by Dr Michael Carley of the University of Bath, in collaboration with Bath Spa University.

"Our long-term goal is to make motorcycling less damaging, by designing new helmets which make riding less noisy," said Dr Carley, a lecturer in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

"We will be looking at designing a helmet that does not create as much noise when the rider is at speed, and this should reduce the risk of damaging the rider's hearing."

Dr Nigel Holt, a lecturer in psychology at Bath Spa University, said: “Motorcycling is a very noisy and potentially dangerous business and we know that noise influences people’s ability to maintain attention and perform tasks. A quieter environment will allow the rider to perform at an optimal level for longer. This is really important for the occasional rider as well as professional riders who are subjected to motorcycling noise on a daily basis.”

The University of Bath is part of the PROHELM network of European universities, research institutes and companies which aims to study how helmets affect riders' performance and safety.

To go to the survey, use the link in the Related Links section.

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