Bicyclists’ Injury Risk Potentially Doubled Without Latest Anti-Concussion Technology Helmets

According to a recent study, bicycle helmets that are not equipped with the latest anti-concussion technology are more than twice as likely to result in injuries to cyclists involved in accidents. Researchers at the Virginia Tech Helmet Lab and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) spent months studying the manner in which cyclists are most likely to strike their heads in a crash and then developed a dozen test scenarios for simulating head injuries. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) requires helmets to pass a series of tests before they can be sold in the United States. However, researchers identified a number of shortcomings in CPSC testing. For example, although one CPSC test measures a helmet’s ability to prevent head impact acceleration forces associated with skull fractures and severe brain injuries, it does not test lower-level forces associated with concussions, which are more common among cyclists. In addition, the current CPSC tests do not evaluate impacts to the helmet rim, despite the fact that several studies have shown that a larger number of head impacts occur at the side or front of helmets along the rim. Finally, although researchers found that a cyclist’s head is more likely to strike the pavement at an angle during a crash, CPSC drop tests require helmets to be dropped perpendicular to the impact surface. As part of the study, researchers developed a test protocol to address these shortcomings.

Researchers evaluated thirty different helmet models by testing each helmet at six common impact locations. The helmets were dropped on an anvil at two speeds taken from studies of real-world bicycle crashes. Sensors embedded in the helmet measured acceleration and rotational velocity. Researchers used the measurements from the sensors to estimate the risk of concussion associated with each helmet. Of the helmets tested, only four received the highest, five-star rating, with two helmets earning 2 stars and the rest falling within the 3-4 star range. All of the five star helmets were equipped with a Multi-Directional Impact Protection Systems (MIPS). MIPS technology creates a low-friction layer inside the helmet which is designed to reduce rotational forces that jostle the brain, causing concussions, and other injuries. Researchers plan to conduct testing of additional helmets, including youth helmets, in the future.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a cycling accident with a vehicle, contact an experienced attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner by calling (713) 222-7211 or toll free at 713-222-7211.