Do Australian Helmet Standards Need Upgrading?

Current helmet testing protocols test whether your head will be protected from a fall at right-angles, the type of fall which happens mostly from a stationary bike.  This doesn’t take into account the rotational forces at play when a rider falls to the ground at speed. 

Most of the TBIs that occur in the real world are caused by rotational forces on the brain. The current testing doesn’t account for the rotational forces at play when cyclists fall to the ground whilst the bike is moving.  If standards don’t change, Australians will continue to be prevented from using helmet technology that offers the best protection.

Research into new head protection technology at the Research Institute of Sweden tested how well the head was protected from rotational forces.  Newer technologies, including Hovding that isn’t actually even a helmet, did a better job of reducing whole-brain strain compared with older helmets. 

NSW participates in MotoCAP, a scheme for testing and rating protective equipment for motorcycle riders.  We believe the same scientific approach should be taken to bicycle helmet testing, and that the standards should be set to ensure the technology on offer to Australian riders is of the best standard.

“Any mention of bicycle helmets in Australia too often degenerates into a fight over whether or not they should be compulsory,” said Bicycle NSW General Manager of Public Affairs, Bastien Wallace.

“This research suggests that Australians may be missing out on being able to choose the most effective brain protection technology, unless our standards are updated,” said Bastien. 

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