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Do “loud pipes” really save lives?

If you spend any time at all among motorcycle enthusiasts, one thing you’re bound to hear is that “loud pipes save lives.” Unfortunately, that’s a total myth.

Loud motorcycle exhaust pipes may annoy your neighbors, but they don’t do a thing to improve your safety. There’s even a study to prove it.

No matter how loud your pipes, drivers still may not hear you coming

Essentially, the study found that there are two main reasons that loud exhaust pipes on motorcycles are ineffective at alerting the drivers of passenger vehicles to their presence.

First, the exhaust pipes are behind the motorcycle – and that sends the noise waves in the wrong direction. The vast majority of accidents involving motorcycles don’t involve rear-end collisions, which is where loud pipes might be useful. Instead, they usually happen when a passenger vehicle moves into the motorcyclist’s path in some way. The study showed that even the loudest exhaust pipes could be barely heard from 33 feet behind a passenger vehicle – and that’s not enough distance to always avert an accident.

Second, vehicles are much more soundproof than they were in the past. Most drivers have their windows up and the heat or air conditioning on, and that alone can drown out the sound of an approaching motorcycle. Add to that the sound of the radio or whatever drivers are playing their favorite music, podcast or audio book on, conversations with passengers and the GPS system, and loud exhaust pipes can get drowned out.

The next time one of your buddies tries to tell you that loud pipes are an important safety feature, take the time to explain why that’s not true. You may be doing them a favor. If you are involved in a crash caused by another driver’s mistakes, learn more about your right to fair compensation for your injuries and losses.