Helmet Construction and Performance
Summary: Resources for researching helmet construction and performance.
Some great articles
- Motorcyclist magazine publishes excellent articles on helmets.
Well researched and written, we recommend them for general background even though the focus is on motorcycle helmets.
- Lights Out: Can contact sports lower your intelligence? This article appeared in Discover Magazine in
December 2004. It was a very interesting source of info being developed on concussion levels and mechanisms.
Helmet Optimization in EuropeThe HOPE study
is a full-scale
Europe-wide examination of helmets and their effectiveness. Nobody has ever done this before. The Final Report
- "..most bicyclists in Europe recognise the increased safety of wearing a helmet. However, they provide an extensive
list of reasons why they still do not do so, including thermal discomfort."
- "The primary conclusion of this Working Group is that the full potential of bicycle helmets has not yet been fully
exhausted. In fact, helmets could even provide additional benefits, when protection is extended further on the lateral
- "Working Group 1 is confident in its recommendation that increased usage of bicycle helmets can reduce the number
and severity of head injuries."
- "While literature varies on the overall effectiveness of bicycle helmets, the inconsistent usage and lack of data
mean that absolute conclusions cannot yet be drawn about the overall impact of bicycle helmets on safety."
There is much more in the report, including recommendations for changes in bicycle helmet testing standards.
Statistics and Medical Journal References
- Our page of Statistics from various sources. Of course they don't agree--just take your
- Our page of peer-reviewed journal articles from various medical and injury-prevention
CR 195: Bicycle helmets
and Injury Prevention: A Formal Review (2000) "Bicycle helmet efficacy is quantified using a formal meta-analytic
approach based on peer-reviewed studies...The results are based on studies conducted in Australia, the USA, Canada
and the United Kingdom, published in the epidemiological and public health literature in the period 1987- 1998. The
summary odds ratio estimate for efficacy is 0.40 (95% confidence interval 0.29, 0.55) for head injury, 0.42 (0.26,
0.67) for brain injury, 0.53 (0.39, 0.73) for facial injury and 0.27 (0.10, 0.71) for fatal injury. This indicates a
statistically significant protective effect of helmets." BHSI note: Most of the "helmets" in pre-1987 days were not
capable of meeting today's standards. If the study were redone with more recent data we would expect a more
protective effect would emerge.
- Our list of Mandatory Helmet Laws in the U.S. and elsewhere.
- A long study and detailed 1995 review of the literature on The Effectiveness of Bicycle
Helmets by Dr. Michael Henderson. Badly outdated but still good.
- Circumstances and Severity of Bicycle Injuries, a summary report of Harborview's Helmet Studies. You can access the
full study on the Snell Memorial Foundation website. Highly recommended!
- The UK has published a
study of helmet effectiveness geared toward decision-making on mandatory helmet requirements.
- The Health Department of Western Australia has
published a study of bicycle injuries and deaths over the period 1981 to 1995. It shows a drop in the proportion of
head injuries as helmets were adopted.
- Our review of an article on helmet fit problems as documented by a pediatric practice in
Improved Shock Absorbing
Liner for Helmets is a study done by the Australian Department of Infrastructure and Transport testing standard
foam liner materials against a "Cone-head" dual density liner."The newly designed shock absorbing foam liner, when
compared with the current liner, displayed significantly more crushing, greater timeduration (interaction), less
slab-cracking and recorded peak decelerations less than the required 300 g's (g-force)."
Jim Kruper's crash story. He uses physics to calculate the g's
to his head with and without a helmet and concludes that without his helmet he would have died.
SafetyLit produces a weekly digest with
hundreds of journal articles abstracted every week. A search using the phrase "bicycle helmet" finds more than 300
journal articles and reports on the topic. A goldmine for researchers provided by the Center for Injury Prevention Policy
& Practice at San Diego State University. You can subscribe for the weekly report, one of the most useful ways to keep
current on journal articles in the helmet field. It has a section on Pedestrians and Bicycles, and one on Protective
The TRIS page
You can research journal articles on bicycle helmets (and other subjects) on the TRIS Search Page
. The Transportation Research
Information Service has more than 400,000 books, journal articles, and technical reports on transportation research from
the 1960's to the present. Put "bicycle and helmet" in the search window and it will return more than 145 references. The
abstracts are sometimes disappointing, but the citations are very useful.
We have a page up on evaluations for helmet campaigns
The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, part of DOT, has an extensive report called
It includes lessons learned from Austin, Texas; Jacksonville and
Duval County, Florida; the State of Maryland; the State of Oregon; Port Angeles, Washington, and Seymour, Connecticut.
The web link actually has the entire CD if you click on "Table of Contents," and clicking on the "printer friendly
version" link gets you a 219 page file in .pdf format that is actually the whole report.
What little we know about the size of global or national helmet
Our Search Function
You can use our site's search function
for specific points that we
may have missed.
What we do not have
We have put up everything we know on the web. Some major gaps remain, and you will not find
information here on:
A Site by Helmet Sceptics
- The best site to begin investigating the scepticism some people hold about helmets is the Bicycle Helmet Research Foundation. They have a Policy Statement page that indicates
where they are coming from, and links to other like-minded sites. The last site update was some time ago.