Cars Crashing and Noise

Car Crashes and Noise

Car crashes are usually noisy affairs:  brakes shrieking, glass breaking, metal rending and grinding, etc.  Apparently the noise level of a car crash is often over 150 dB, which is very loud and very hard on hearing. And the noise level of airbags deploying is around 165 dB.  According to IEEE Spectrum: “It’s estimated that 17 percent of the people who are exposed to airbag deployment suffer some degree of permanent hearing loss.” (  (You can read more about the hearing damage caused by airbag deployment here.)

Watch an airbag deploy, in silence, here.

So what is to be done? Apparently the auto industry is very attentive to what they call “pre-safety” technologies:

“The idea of pre-crash safety has been out there for a while. For instance, a car can instantly tighten the seatbelt to minimize movement and prevent the body from “submarining” forward, under the belt. Or it can inflate a tiny airbag to nudge the driver toward the center, protecting against side impact. Or it can close the sunroof, adding to the rigidity of the cabin.” (ibid.)

And now we find out that Mercedes-Benz, as part of its pre-crash safety systems, has been working for years on a system that they are calling “pre-safe sound”, which is now available and “standard in the 2017 E class {Mercedes-Benz].” (ibid.)


And they are marketing it with this image:

pink noise

What, you ask, is “pre-safe sound”?  Exactly what it says, folks! Sound that occurs BEFORE your car crash happens. Here is what IEEE Spectrum says about it:

“When the car’s sensors sense an impending crash, the cabin is filled with a burst of “pink” noise, a broad spectrum of frequencies in which the power is inversely proportional to the frequency. That triggers the so-called acoustic reflex, in which the stapedius muscle—the smallest muscle in the body (remember that for Trivial Pursuit)—contracts, bracing it, the bones of the inner ear, and the eardrum. The pink noise is around 80 decibels, about equal to that of a dishwasher and completely safe.” (ibid.)


[A quick note:  80 dB is still pretty loud. And most new dishwashers are much quieter than that – mine is about 49 dB.  But, 80 is better than 160!]

If you have a lot of money, I guess you could buy one of these Mercedes. Or wait until pink noise becomes a standard item on all cars.

Drive carefully out there; and don’t play your music TOO loudly!



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