Three things you need to know about helmet technology

Important new research on rotational forces and sub-concussive hits

Helmets Tech
Car technology has come along way in the past fifty years. In this crash test conducted by the IIHS to celebrate their 50th anniversary, the occupants of the newer vehicle fared much better than those in the vintage Chevy.

Car safety technology has come a long way in the past 50 years. In this crash test conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety to celebrate its 50th anniversary, the occupants of the newer vehicle fared much better than those in the vintage Chevy (click to enlarge).

Safety advocates often compare the current state of helmet technology to that of cars from 40 years ago. In those days, cars lacked anti-lock brakes, stability control, airbags, and numerous other features that have helped to greatly reduce the risk of injury to passengers in modern cars. Check out this video to see what we mean.

What’s important to remember is that crisis precipitates change. In 1973, OPEC proclaimed an oil embargo, which sparked a crisis that drastically altered the auto industry. For instance, a mandatory national speed limit was created, rear wheel drive was phased out in favor of lighter front wheel drive designs, and many manufacturers began offering cars with smaller more fuel efficient engines.

Flash forward to today, and the helmet industry is undergoing a significant realignment due to a heightened awareness of brain trauma injuries brought upon largely by the discovery of CTE in football players (watch the video on the next page to learn more). For many years it was just good enough to pass the standard, a standard which was developed by dropping dead bodies down an elevator shaft to determine at what point the skull would fracture.

Since that time, however, we’ve learned that impacts to your head have further reaching consequences. Today, helmet manufacturers are racing to develop new products that will not only prevent your skull from cracking, but will also help reduce the risk of concussions and other injuries from rotational or sub-concussive impacts.

Continue to page 2 for more on helmet safety technology »

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  • tyrebyter says:

    This is a good start. If you can keep the marketing non-sense out as the series unfolds, that will go a long way in helping us understand the issues. Lots of data now available on TBI. What is lacking now is quantifying the manufacturers claims. Does MIPS work? Quantify it. Multi-density liners reduce G-force? How much? Claims are a waste of time without independently verifiable results.

  • vulgar bulgar says:

    Good stuff, looking forward to the series of articles. Nowadays with helmets adding gimmick features like gopro mounts and venting, it’s good to see people focusing on what’s really important – keeping your brain pan from going squish.

  • Farmer Ted says:

    I’m going to be a nerd for a minute and call you on some of your ‘facts’ regarding the history of automotive safety and design.

    The beginning of automotive safety standards began when Ralph Nader published the book ‘Unsafe at Any Speed’ in 1965 and people were so outraged that they demanded the US government take action. Since that time, automotive safety standards have been constantly improved and updated to the point where today there are hundreds of required standards that any car sold to the public must meet.

    The OPEC oil crisis had nothing to do with safety standards. When OPEC quit selling us oil, gasoline prices skyrocketed and consumers demanded more fuel efficient cars. The auto companies responses were to make smaller, lighter, more fuel efficient cars. As a side note, the Japanese were already making smaller, lighter, more fuel efficient cars and they nearly put the American automakers out of business. It took the rest of the 1970s as well as the 1980s and part of the 90’s for the American automakers to catch back up.

    I guess the point is, it’s hard to take an article seriously when there’s flawed information. I happen to be an expert on automotive information because it’s the field that I’m in. When I see big inaccuracies regarding subjects that I have expertise in, it makes me question the accuracy of the rest of the article.

    • Farmer Ted says:

      Never mind. I guess I can see what you are trying to do with your OPEC ‘crisis precipitates change’ thing but In one paragraph you’re talking automotive safety and in the next OPEC oil crisis…they don’t really go together. If you keep topics or analogies consistent, it makes it easier to follow and less likely for nerds like me to be nerds.

  • Outside! says:

    Sad fate for that ’59 Impala.

  • Cracker69 says:

    A series of articles…….the intention of these articles is to inform or fashion a market niche for new helmut designs? MTBR will lose credibility if it becomes a useful shill for company product aspirations. I challenge MTBR to discuss the designs and refer to no specific product in the description. So many recent heralded bike design alterations have resulted salivation by the bike product junkies but no quantifiable enhancement of performance (tires are likely the only exception). Is the purpose of MTBR to inform or sell?

  • stiingya says:

    I applaud companies trying to make better products! But I’m wary that it’s the same people asking for my money who are telling me how much better their product is…

    3rd party verification with comparative results or I fear it’s just marketing BS.

  • will says:

    Recovering from an over the handlebars concussion now… At 54 this is much harder to deal with than when I was 19. The article is interesting, but I really didn’t get any new information on what to buy for better protection. With 50 stitches in my mouth I have been thinking about a full face version… kinda with Cracker69 on this one.

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