Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute

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L'original en Français ici

La Lettre de la Commission de la Sécurité des Consommateurs
Numéro 68/Juillet-âout 2005
Commission de la Sécurité des Consommateurs, Paris, France.

On a bicycle, the wearing of a helmet is not mandatory, it is just indispensable. That is again the message sent by the National Institute for Prevention and Education for Health (INPES). Last May 22nd, on the occasion of a bicycle excursion day sponsored by the signing of sports articles, the Minister of Consumer Affairs and the Minister of Youth, Sports and Community Life supported this publicity campaign for bicycle helmet use. The managers of this new initiative noted that each year in France 300 cyclists die on the roads from crashes. "Wearing a helmet will avoid many injuries and deaths," emphasized the organizers of this event. Specifically, according to CSC materials, "the wearing of an approved helmet will prevent 85 percent of head injuries and, most importantly, 88 per cent of brain injuries.

With regard to regulatory standards, CSC notes that it is the directive no.89/686/CEE of December 21, 1989 relating to individual protective equipment which applies to bicycle helmets. This standard, adopted in 1994 (decree number 94-689) includes essential safety requirements relating to impact protection, comfort and effectiveness, and fitting systems... The helmet must carry EC markings and be in conformity with the European standard or equivalent non-European standards. Thus, by way of example, standard NF IN 1078 defines the applicable safety requirements for this product (the same standard includes skateboard and roller skating helmets). The helmet must also be accompanied by complete documentation covering in particular the name and the address of the manufacturer; instructions for storage, maintenance, cleaning, use, installation and adjustment; size; compatible accessories; the designation of the model and mention of the sport for which it is designed; the weight. A label must also alert the consumer to any risks of deterioration of the helmet by cleaning chemicals.

In any event a good helmet must protect the face, the top and the back of the head, as well as the temples. It should not limit the field of vision nor affect the hearing of the user.

The straps (adjustable) must maintain the helmet firmly in place, even during a fall. Lastly, the helmet must light, well ventilated, comfortable and be a bright color to be seen well by other road users.

The Commission is preparing an advisory on these materials.