Do the helmets in accidents involving helmets get investigated?

This sub-forum all discussions about this "lively" subject. All topics that are substantially about helmets will be moved here, if not placed here correctly in the first place.
User avatar
horizon
Posts: 8336
Joined: 9 Jan 2007, 11:24am
Location: Cornwall

Do the helmets in accidents involving helmets get investigated?

Postby horizon » 11 Apr 2018, 1:18am

A helmet wearing cyclist on the train spoke to me recently about an accident in which he was wearing a helmet and went over a car, hit his head but was uninjured.

One of the things we often hear about helmet testing is that it is (obviously) very difficult to set up real events to assess how well they perform. But I wondered whether it was possible to make fuller investigations into accidents involving helmets to look more closely at the role of the helmet.

This would presumably involve things like the speed of the cyclist at the time of the crash, how far he/she was thrown, what he hit (windscreen, tarmac etc) and with which body part and what happened to the helmet (broken or not etc). While some of these factors may be estimates, some may offer up good results if subject to detailed investigation.

Has this ever been done or is it done? Do helmet manufacturers study real accidents? Does anyone, apart from the helmet owner, examine helmet performance in accidents? Anf if so, what sort of results have been obtained?
Bikes belong on trains: two spaces per carriage would meet most needs.

brynpoeth
Posts: 5809
Joined: 30 Nov 2013, 11:26am

Re: Do the helmets in accidents involving helmets get investigated?

Postby brynpoeth » 11 Apr 2018, 2:38am

I think a h****t often disintegrates after impact, even if it is not damaged the advice is to discard it and get a new one
€€!
Alternative facts welcome .. Cycling? Of course, but it is far better on a Gillott

User avatar
Cunobelin
Posts: 7571
Joined: 6 Feb 2007, 7:22pm

Re: Do the helmets in accidents involving helmets get investigated?

Postby Cunobelin » 11 Apr 2018, 6:13am

... isn

Most manufacturers will "buy back" a damaged helmet for research purposes

It is usually in terms of a discount in buying the replacement

This is the one for Giro as an example.

However don't expect too much.

There is evidence that modern helmets are less effective than twenty years ago, and it is unlikely that the companies want to prove that

Marcus Aurelius
Posts: 119
Joined: 1 Feb 2018, 10:20am

Re: Do the helmets in accidents involving helmets get investigated?

Postby Marcus Aurelius » 11 Apr 2018, 6:40am

I’ve done a fair bit of impromptu helmet during accident testing over the years. They’ve certainly stopped me from sustaining serious head injuries. Helmet manufacturers want to sell helmets, and don’t want their profit margins eroded by costly studies, when there are standard tests, which will do, to get the minimum necessary regulatory ‘ticks in boxes’ to enable them to be able to sell at a profit. As far as I know, no one has commissioned any robust scientific studies into the efficacy of cycle helmets. It would be a difficult thing to do, as people involved in accidents where a helmet would have helped, but didn’t wear a helmet, tend to be dead, and dead people don’t talk much.

thirdcrank
Posts: 26412
Joined: 9 Jan 2007, 2:44pm

Re: Do the helmets in accidents involving helmets get investigated?

Postby thirdcrank » 11 Apr 2018, 6:41am

I've no idea, but I have a very vague memory of this happening with motorcycle helmets around fifty years ago, although only from what I think I remember of the instructions about the procedure which involved some helmets - presumably only those damaged in a crash but I'm not sure - being submitted to what used to be a Home Office forensic science lab. That was, of course, before motorcycle helmets were made compulsory, but in the period when the government was presumably thinking about it.

Thornyone
Posts: 290
Joined: 7 Dec 2017, 11:15am

Re: Do the helmets in accidents involving helmets get investigated?

Postby Thornyone » 11 Apr 2018, 8:28am

I have worn a helmet for many years. My 1989 hardshell helmet was much less likely to be damaged by impact than my current model. It was also considerably heavier and I understand that this could be a problem because of the potential for a brain injury caused by the extra momentum generated, in the same way that boxing gloves can cause a brain injury which bare knuckles probably would not.

I have been knocked off/fallen from my bike a good many times over the years. On only one occasion have I hit my head, in a low-speed “tramline” incident on a cycle track. I avoided a nasty bang to my forehead, but even at that low speed I was aware of the jarring effect (and this was when wearing my light, modern helmet). I wear the helmet for that sort of incident and wouldn’t expect it to be useful in a collision with a vehicle.

Incidentally, an aquaintance recently commented approvingly on my helmet-wearing and told me how he had witnessed an accident in which a cyclist was killed. This was a tragic case where a passenger was allowed to exit a taxi road-side outside the railway station and the taxi door knocked a cyclist into the path of a van. My non-cyclist aquaintance seemed to think that the cyclist would have lived had he been wearing a helmet. From what I heard of the poor chap’s injury, it seemed extremely unlikely, and in fact the coroner found that a helmet would not have saved the victim.
Last edited by Thornyone on 11 Apr 2018, 8:48am, edited 1 time in total.

Tangled Metal
Posts: 3783
Joined: 13 Feb 2015, 8:32pm

Re: Do the helmets in accidents involving helmets get investigated?

Postby Tangled Metal » 11 Apr 2018, 8:43am

I've got a mate who takes advantage of the replacement helmet schemes. He bought one good helmet many years ago and hasn't had to buy one since due to the replacement schemes. Or at least has never had to pay more than 50% of the cost.

I reckon he likes to think he's playing his part in n making helmets more effective. A real life crash test dummy! Although a full face helmet probably meets his needs more. He's left enough teeth behind in dry stone walls that he should know better.

Basically, I suspect the replacement schemes are a marketing ploy. I can buy a serviceable helmet for £30 or less. However buy a £200 helmet and you'll get minimal safety improvement but you'll get 50% off if you crash in the next year. That's £100 for your next helmet instead of another £30 one. However in doing this you're tied to the same brand for at least another year. Keeps market share and probably still means you're paying what the helmet really should retail at if you're operating fair margins. Yep! Definitely a marketing ploy!

PS I've never had an accident involving my head so I can honestly say a helmet never saved my life. I think that's possibly the most accurate statement in helmet debates!

Cugel
Posts: 300
Joined: 13 Nov 2017, 11:14am

Re: Do the helmets in accidents involving helmets get investigated?

Postby Cugel » 11 Apr 2018, 9:05am

Marcus Aurelius wrote:I’ve done a fair bit of impromptu helmet during accident testing over the years. They’ve certainly stopped me from sustaining serious head injuries. ........


How do you know that?

If the polystyrene taking the impact was crushed absolutely flat from it's expanded state then it may, at best, have absorbed 7 Newtons of bang-force before transmitting the residual to you. If the helmet was merely shattered (easy to do to polystyrene) then it will have absorbed very little force and so not protected you from anything at all.

A 7 Newton head bang will hurt a lot but will rarely cause "serious head injuries". I know, as I've fallen down and banged my head in the fells, in the icerink, in the garden ......... Never on a bike, in 60 years of cycling, mind. (Gremlin, be gone!).

I would like to see far better helmet testing. It's said to be impractical but, as another poster has noted, this is the opinion of the manufacturers, who also do the vast majority of the "testing". It wouldn't be hard, I feel, to arrange test-blows of various kinds, at various angles, at various speeds and with various substances to simulate a far greater range of real-world head bangs other than the falling-slowly-on-to-a-flat-surface "test".

Cugel

Tangled Metal
Posts: 3783
Joined: 13 Feb 2015, 8:32pm

Re: Do the helmets in accidents involving helmets get investigated?

Postby Tangled Metal » 11 Apr 2018, 9:46am

With modern, sophisticated crash test dummies, why can't they standardise a helmet test using one of those for various, real life accident types?

Rig up a bicycle frame, pull it to the side of a car reconstruction that stimulated a driver making a left turn without considering the cyclist. Or a side impact from a motorist coming in from a side road or whatever. Safety on cars get an industry standard NCAP rating for all models of cars. Why can't they do an equivalent for cycling safety equipment?

Imagine if they actually rated helmets according to protection offered. Imagine that rating was linked to actual protection offered. Say a 3 star rated helmet will only protect you if you are wearing it and banging your head against the wall after reading another unsubstantiated "my helmet saved my life" comment!

User avatar
bovlomov
Posts: 3004
Joined: 5 Apr 2007, 7:45am
Contact:

Re: Do the helmets in accidents involving helmets get investigated?

Postby bovlomov » 11 Apr 2018, 10:29am

Marcus Aurelius wrote:As far as I know, no one has commissioned any robust scientific studies into the efficacy of cycle helmets. It would be a difficult thing to do, as people involved in accidents where a helmet would have helped, but didn’t wear a helmet, tend to be dead, and dead people don’t talk much.

In accidents where a helmet would have helped, people without them tend to have bumps and grazes. The pile of dead bodies is rather small.

User avatar
horizon
Posts: 8336
Joined: 9 Jan 2007, 11:24am
Location: Cornwall

Re: Do the helmets in accidents involving helmets get investigated?

Postby horizon » 11 Apr 2018, 1:11pm

Marcus Aurelius wrote:I’ve done a fair bit of impromptu helmet during accident testing over the years. They’ve certainly stopped me from sustaining serious head injuries.


Yes, it was whether anyone had seriously investigated such impromptu claims.

As far as I know, no one has commissioned any robust scientific studies into the efficacy of cycle helmets.


Quite. If that is true then that is a basically the helmet promotion industry well and truly sunk. More than that, if that really is true then there is a huge scandal in the making - this is big.

It would be a difficult thing to do, as people involved in accidents where a helmet would have helped, but didn’t wear a helmet, tend to be dead, and dead people don’t talk much


Well, people do talk and endlessly about how their helmet saved their life (see my OP) but it seems no-one goes out there and tests the veracity of their claims. And indeed it would be worth looking into serious accidents involving a non-helmet wearer - as bovlomov said, they aren't all dead.
Bikes belong on trains: two spaces per carriage would meet most needs.

Wanlock Dod
Posts: 225
Joined: 28 Sep 2016, 5:48pm

Re: Do the helmets in accidents involving helmets get investigated?

Postby Wanlock Dod » 11 Apr 2018, 1:23pm

Marcus Aurelius wrote:I’ve done a fair bit of impromptu helmet during accident testing over the years. They’ve certainly stopped me from sustaining serious head injuries...

Would you mind telling us how many times you have broken either a wrist or collar bone in these incidents? I'm sure it would provide a valuable reference for the severity of the crashes. I know loads of people who claim to have had their lives saved by helmets, but only one of them actually broke their wrist at the same time, none of the others had sustained any significant injuries (just bruises and road rash mostly) apart from the fortunately avoided fatal head wound.

Tangled Metal
Posts: 3783
Joined: 13 Feb 2015, 8:32pm

Re: Do the helmets in accidents involving helmets get investigated?

Postby Tangled Metal » 11 Apr 2018, 1:52pm

If you are trying to cast doubt in the mind of a "my helmet saved my life" pro helmet person then can I suggest you wear a cycle helmet. I believe it will protect your head for one bout of sustained banging your head against a brick wall before you give up discussing life saving helmets or the helmet needs replacing. I would certainly replace the helmet after each banging the head against a brick wall.

AFAIK there's no testing on the efficacy of cycle helmets when banging your head against a wall during a helmet debate. However my cycle helmet saved my life when I last had a helmet debate with someone. If you looked at the state of the helmet you'd agree on sure. And no I didn't break my collarbone or wrist during the debate. My helmet made sure of that.

:wink: :D

millimole
Posts: 422
Joined: 18 Feb 2007, 5:41pm
Location: Leicester

Re: Do the helmets in accidents involving helmets get investigated?

Postby millimole » 11 Apr 2018, 6:50pm

If people are live testing these helmets so much in the real world, then there may be a different problem/solution.
If cyclists are falling off or having collisions frequently then there may be an issue with bike handling skills or traffic awareness.
On 40+ years of riding I seem to recall four 'serious' offs, and in only one of them did I hit my head (and a hat would have made no difference).
So - why are some riders coming off so much?

I'm a trendy consumer. Just look at my gormless idiot phone.
Leicester; Riding my Hetchins since 1971; Audaxing on my Dawes; Riding to work on a Decathlon Hoprider

Marcus Aurelius
Posts: 119
Joined: 1 Feb 2018, 10:20am

Re: Do the helmets in accidents involving helmets get investigated?

Postby Marcus Aurelius » 11 Apr 2018, 7:56pm

In all my big accidents, I have been hit from behind whilst stationary, waiting at junctions, and hit side on by drivers who didn’t give way to their right. A couple of them were unfit through drink or drugs.
Last edited by Graham on 11 Apr 2018, 9:45pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Keep it simple & polite, thanks.