Here are 2 Commonly Overlooked Dangers When Driving a Convertible Car

The warm Summer months are finally upon us and if you own a convertible car, then you’re probably itching to put the top down and soak up some rays. And while cruising around town in your drop top might sound like a motoring dream, your fun in the sun presents two large dangers that you may have overlooked.

Driving a convertible car can be bad for your ears

A Mini Cooper Convertible driving down the road
A Mini Cooper Convertible | Getty Images

Whenever you undo that latch or flip that switch to lower the soft top on your beloved convertible, you might not pay much mind to the fact that your ears suffer from your joyride. According to a report on WebMD, convertible drivers who consistently drive faster than 55 mph may be at risk of hearing loss over time. As you can guess, the possible hearing loss is partly due to the excessive wind noise – and wind noise spikes – at freeway speeds.

According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, decibel levels higher than 85 are excessive. To get an accurate test on the type of wind noise that convertibles produce, researchers used a decibel meter to test five different cars at highway speeds. When driven at 55 mph, the convertible cars’ sound levels were above 85 dB with the top down.

The results didn’t look much better when the cars were driven faster. At 75 mph, the cars produced an average of 89.9 decibels, which is equivalent to a vacuum cleaner or loud music. One interesting point is that the study was conducted using a Porsche, a Ford, a Nissan, a Saab, and a Saturn. The Saturn had more noise at slower and higher speeds with the top down, while the Porsche was the noisiest with the top up.

If anything, this study shows what kind of a detriment that top-down motoring can have on your ears.

Driving a convertible car can be bad for your skin

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales accompanied by Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall arrives, driving his 1969 Aston Martin DB6 Volante.
Prince Charles, Prince of Wales accompanied by Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall arrives, driving his 1969 Aston Martin DB6 Volante. | (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

It goes without saying that when you fold the top down on your convertible, you and your passengers are exposed to the sun. If you’re planning on embarking on a long road trip, that prolonged sun exposure can easily do a number on your epidermis, which can eventually lead to skin cancer.

The Skin Cancer Foundation reports that there are two types of UV radiation that the Sun emits that can cause skin cancer: UVB and UVA rays. The UVB rays are what normally cause sunburns, while UVA rays are what make you tan, but are also responsible for premature aging. Your car’s windshield can block over 90% of UVA rays and its side windows can block some of them too. However, with the top down, you won’t have any sun protection.

What can you do to alleviate the noise and harmful rays?

 Anderson Cooper jumps out of the back of a red convertible Mustang.
Anderson Cooper jumps out of the back of a red convertible Mustang. | Getty Images

Drive your convertible with the top up. Although, that’s no fun. So instead, if you’re planning on going on a long drive in your convertible this Summer, we recommend applying some sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) to prevent any skin damage. And if you want to protect your ears while driving at high speeds, then you can invest in a pair of earplugs.

You might not get the full experience with plugs in your ears, but at least you can hold onto your sense of hearing for a little longer.

RELATED: The Honda CR-V Convertible Died Before It Ever Got a Chance to Live