Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute
The Helmet Update by Email
Volume 15, Issue 3e - May 18, 1998
Previous Issue: March 11, 1998
ASTM Standards Committee Making Progress
On May 7 and 8 ASTM's F8.53 Headgear Subcommittee met in Atlanta and worked hard on
improvements to a number of its helmet standards.
Details are in the draft ASTM minutes for the meeting.
- Base Standard (Describes test methods)
1. Labeling requirement changes to clarify some warnings were approved and sent on to Main
2. New language on projections (smooth shells) was approved and sent on to Main Committee ballot.
3. Technical revisions are progressing to specify anvil finishes (a wet polished and chromed anvil
splits helmets more easily than a wet rough anvil). Other technical changes in the works will
clarify anvil dimensions in the standard's drawings, improve verification of test lab equipment
performance, and improve the uniformity of retention testing. In addition, the standard may be
reorganized to clarify its content.
4. A helmet strangulation case on a Canadian playground was discussed and a task group will look
into the incident and determine if there is a buckle design possible that would prevent it
without loss of performance for normal crashes. There are still no reported deaths in the U.S.
from this problem, probably because of our playground equipment specs.
- Bicycle Helmets
1. The committee appointed a task group to draft changes to ensure that our standard
is equal to or surpasses the CPSC bicycle helmet standard that becomes law on March 10. 1999.
2.The committee is discussing limits on shell projections or shell friction tests to require
3. A forward field of vision requirement will be balloted for discussion, despite our objection that it will not help and will result in less
protective helmets for most riders.
4. An attempt to merge the identical bicycle and inline skating helmet standards was voted down.
- Infant-toddler Bicycle Helmets
This new standard was sent on the ASTM Committee on Standards for final approval and publication.
- Downhill Bicycle Racing Helmets
Sent back for revision and reballoting.
- Ski Helmets
This draft standard was discussed and sent forward for Main Committee ballot. It is at least
six months from publication.
- Skateboard Helmets
Discussed and sent forward to Main Committee ballot. Some new changes will be balloted at
the same time.
- Whitewater Helmets
This draft standard was discussed and sent back for reballot.
- Rodeo Helmets
A task group report was discussed and additional information will be sought.
- Equestrian Helmets
A task group will ballot clarifications to various provisions.
- Roller Hockey Helmets
This draft standard was discussed.
- Soccer Helmets
A task group will look into the need for a soccer helmet standard.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission's standard for bicycle helmets
will become law on March 10, 1999. It can be used by manufacturers as an
interim standard in the meantime, and the stickers are beginning to emerge.
They should be in stores by the middle of the year. The standard is close
enough to the ASTM standard to permit most of the ASTM helmets on the market
to meet it.
CPSC Will be the Primary Standard by 1999
During the ASTM meetings earlier this month there was discussion of where
the ASTM standard should fit in the post-CPSC world. Some manufacturers
indicated that they would not be labeling their helmets with the ASTM label
once the CPSC standard is widely known. We believe that the standards question
becomes moot for most consumers when there is a law requiring a helmet to meet
the current industry standard. When was the last time you checked a seat belt
for a standards sticker? In most cases a buyer won't even have to look in
the helmet for a standards sticker. So the message becomes simpler: buy a helmet
that fits you. For the few who do research before buying, a Snell B-95 sticker
is still the premium standard.
The ASTM committee discussed possible strategies for its bicycle helmet standard
and appointed a task group to draft language revising the ASTM standard to make
sure that it equals or exceeds CPSC's requirements. After that, the committee
will be considering improvements that will eventually surpass the CPSC standard
in some respects. Since it is likely that revisions of the CPSC standard will be
slow and infrequent, ASTM's changes may serve to lead CPSC along a consensus path
The CPSC standard is on our website.