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Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute

The Helmet Update by Email

Volume 18, #2 - April 3, 2000

All issues index

Helmets for 2000

Helmet lines for 2000 continue last year's trend to fewer new helmet designs, reflecting flat consumer demand and continued thin profit margins in the industry.

We noted this year that big vents are still big, adversely impacting protection. Some of the new models are a little better rounded than last year, particularly those that eliminate the aero "shelf" projection in the rear. But squared-off lines still dominate. So far there have been no radically new materials introduced in the 2000 model year. One company, SportScope, has a new design that uses chunks of foam linked closely with an embedded mesh, permitting the chunks move enough to conform somewhat to an unusual head shape. That may improve the fit for some riders, but if the edges of the chunks hit your head in the wrong place it can literally be a headache. As reported in our last email Update, Gina Gallant of Prince George, B.C., Canada has designed a helmet that uses LED's to inform the wearer when it is fitted correctly.

All helmets manufactured for the US market after March 10, 1999 must meet the national CPSC standard, but a few of the older ones are still on sale at reduced prices.

We recommend looking for a helmet that:

    1. Meets the CPSC standard.

    2. Fits you

    3. Has a rounded, smooth exterior.

    4. Has no more vents than you need.

A few of the better ones were identified in the 1999 Consumer Reports helmet article, but most models on the market this year were not tested for that article.

Details are in a long article on our website.

Maine Passes Law But Tennessee Says No to Extension

Maine became the 16th state with a helmet law during 1999. The Maine helmet requirement was contained in their Bicycle Safety Education Act, and covers all riders under 16. The helmet must meet the CPSC standard. There is no fine associated with non-compliance, but a police officer can stop an unhelmeted rider and provide them with bicycle safety information and info on where to get a helmet. Municipalities are apparently permitted to go beyond the state law, at least for the education provisions of the act.

AP reported in March that the Tennessee legislature considered and rejected a change in the state's 1994 helmet law that would have extended coverage from state-maintained roads to all roads and sidewalks in Tennessee. The bill would also have increased the age covered from 12 to 16.

CPSC Forum to Explore Repetitive Impact Injuries

The Consumer Product Safety Commission will hold a public forum on May 2nd on the subject of repetitive impact head injury. This is a subject being discussed extensively in the soccer community at present, where the question of use of protective headgear for soccer players has arisen following publication of study data indicating that long-term soccer players may suffer brain injury from repeatedly heading the ball. We have some info on soccer helmets up on our web page covering helmets for various activities other than bicycling.

The Helmet Update - Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute
Randy Swart
4611 Seventh Street South
Arlington, VA 22204-1419 USA
(703) 486-0100 (voice)

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