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Cyclists Injury Risk Could Be Doubled Without Latest Helmets

Tuesday, 31 July 2018 at 16:59

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Cyclists’ Injury Risk Could Be Doubled Without Latest Helmets. The next time you hop on a bicycle to head across town, consider this: your helmet may not perform well enough in an accident.

For one, he said, they don’t assess the strength of the helmet rim covering the side and forehead areas, which are frequently where cyclists strike the ground.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission standards also aren’t very good at determining whether someone will get a lesser, though still serious, head injury such as a concussion, the new study found.

An estimated 81,000 people went to A&E for bike-related head injuries in 2015.

In 2016, 840 cyclists died in accidents involving motor vehicles, the most since 1991.

Test Scenarios

“There wasn’t a lot of information about which helmets offer the most protection,” Zuby said. “We went to Virginia Tech because they had been doing star ratings of football helmets for a number of years and had just started doing the same thing for hockey helmets.”

Researchers, including Rowson, spent months studying how cyclists were most likely to strike their heads in crashes and then developed a dozen test scenarios to replicate them. They tested glancing blows as well as direct hits and compared strikes on different parts of helmets.

To simulate how a helmet would hold up upon hitting asphalt, they added sandpaper to the metal structures on which they slammed their state-of-the-art test dummies.

One of the key findings is that a relatively new technology known as Multi-Directional Impact Protection System, or MIPS, can lessen the risk of concussion. MIPS-equipped helmets have an inner layer that allows the head to slide and twist slightly in an impact, lessening the forces that cause trauma.

Of the four helmets awarded Virginia Tech’s top five-star rating, all had the MIPS technology.

Urban-Style Helmets

Urban-style helmets, which have been growing in popularity and look more like those used for skiing or skateboarding, didn’t perform as well. They tended to have a thinner layer of the foam that compresses in an impact, Rowson said.

Price also didn’t seem to play much of a role in the level of protection, the study found. The Bontrager Ballista MIPS, which lists for about $200, and the Specialized Chamonix MIPS, about $75, each earned five stars.

The Lazer Genesis and the Bern Watts received the lowest ratings, two stars or "adequate."

The model with the highest score would allow a theoretical risk of concussion 10.9 percent of the time, compared with 25.3 percent for the worst, Rowson said.

So far, results for only 30 helmets have been released. The team is currently testing additional models and is expanding to look at those designed for mountain biking and bike motocross, or BMX. The researchers are hoping the government or the cycling industry will adopt similar, tougher standards.

That won’t help in all cases, however. Government accident data show that more than half of the people who die in bike collisions with motor vehicles weren’t wearing helmets.



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