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Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute

The Helmet Update by Email

Volume 24, #1 - January 12, 2006

All issues index

Helmets for 2006 and NHTSA stats released

Summary: We have posted our review of Helmets for 2006.
NHTSA has released statistics on cyclist deaths and injuries for 2004.

Helmets for 2006

We have just posted our review of Helmets for 2006.

Trends this year

There are new helmets in 2006 that are worth a look if you are inclined to replace yours. There are some new models appearing with the rounder, smoother profile that we think is best for crashing. Other than that there is no major technological advance that compels you to replace your current helmet.

  • At the high end, you will still find big vents and high prices, but no verifiable improvement in safety performance. The least expensive $7.14 helmet is designed to the same impact standard.

  • Rounder, smoother "commuter" models are growing in number.

  • Ring fit systems, the "one size fits all" solution, are even more widespread this year.

  • A slow-release buckle to prevent children from "hanging" themselves on playground equipment or trees may become available in Europe later in 2006, developed by Etto of Norway.

  • Foams are slowly evolving.

  • Carbon fiber, titanium and kevlar use is spreading but offer no revolutionary performance improvement.

  • Strap adjustment fittings need improvement to prevent "strap creep"

  • We still recommend looking for a helmet that:

      1. Meets the CPSC bicycle helmet standard.

      2. Meets the ASTM F1492 Skateboard standard if you will be skateboarding.

      3. Fits you well.

      4. Has a rounded, smooth exterior with no snag points.

      5. Has no more vents than you need. More vents = less foam.

We recommend steering away from models with obvious disadvantages like snag points on the outer surface. And it will not surprise you that for the softest landing it helps to have lots of thicker, less dense foam in a helmet, leading to our recommendation that you find one with no more vents than you need.

And we have sections on:

  • Commuter Helmets

  • Value Helmets

  • New Technology Helmets

  • Chrono Time Trial Helmets

  • "Women-Specific" Designs

  • Smallest and Largest Helmets

  • Skateboard helmets

  • Helmets for Rounder Heads

  • Outside the US

  • Prices

NHTSA Publishes 2004 Data

A Major Statistical Event each year is the release of NHTSA data on bicycle deaths and injuries.

  • 725 cyclists died in traffic in 2004, up 96 from 2003 but lower than the days before helmets (1,023 in 1975).

  • 41,000 cyclists were injured in traffic. (Probably under-reported, since over 500,000 cyclists visit emergency rooms annually.)

  • Cyclist fatalities occurred more frequently in urban areas (66%) and at nonintersection locations (67%).

  • Fatalities per million population were highest in Florida, Nevada, Hawaii, DC and Arizona.

The full study is on the web.

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This page was revised on: October 31, 2020. BHSI logo