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The Helmet Update

Volume 36, #2, March 10, 2018

All issues index

Hövding petitions for exemption from CPSC helmet standard

Hövding petitions for exemption from CPSC helmet standard

On December 17 the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission received a petition from Hövding Sweden AB "requesting the Commission to exempt inflatable head protective devices for bicyclists, such as Hövding's product, from the testing requirements of the Safety Standard for Bicycle Helmets, if such product complies with, and is certified to, requirements in another standard that Hövding states is appropriate to test such products. The Commission invites written comments concerning this petition."

All the details were finally published in the March 9 Federal Register.

The deadline for comments is May 8, 2018.

Although we always welcome new technology for head protection, will be commenting along the lines of our page on airbag helmets.

We do not agree that an airbag that must inflate before an impact provides protection equivalent to an always-there helmet for impacts with overhangs, tree limbs, truck mirrors, secondary impacts after car crashes and other situations. If the battery has run down the airbag cannot even inflate.

In addition, Hövding proposes to substitute a test protocol developed for them by a Swedish test lab that is obviously designed to pass their product. They call that "a Swedish standard."

Helmet lab testing for the CPSC standard includes testing wet, cold and hot samples. Helmets are tested against rounded anvils and curbstone anvils as well as flat ones. The test would have to be of a fully-inflated Chieftain. How well would this device perform against the grapefruit-shaped hemispheric anvil, or the curbstone anvil? Would it perform after being immersed in water for four hours? (Instructions say do not immerse.) Would it pass the positional stability test once it was inflated? Would it perform at -15 and plus 50 degrees Centigrade? (That's 5 to 122 degrees F.) All of these questions assume testing on conventional equipment as called out in the CPSC standard, and there are good reasons based on field experience for each of the test parameters.

Hövding has hired a former CPSC Commissioner to push their petition through the process. We and media personnel were excluded from the normally-public meeting with CPSC staff under the "proprietary technology" excuse.

To comment on the petition you must use this page.

The Helmet Update - Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute
Randy Swart, Editor
4611 Seventh Street South
Arlington, VA 22204-1419 USA
(703) 486-0100 (voice)
(703) 486-0576 (fax)