The Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute recently released data on some safety tests they had performed against a variety of helmets along a considerable price range ($9.96 – $206.99). The results show that the helmets tested stood up equally well to the destructive onslaught of the masses dropped on them – regardless of their retail price.
That’s good news because it confirms that effectively protective helmets are available to virtually everyone. It also points to the potential value of the youth helmet program that the RI State Health Department and the U.S. Open Cycling Foundation have been providing for the past couple of years by delivering and individually fitting hundreds of helmets to kids around the state. All good news to those concerned about society’s health care cost burden.
One caveat – these tests, where a mass is dropped onto a helmet strapped to a simulated head, are only part of the appropriate measurement of a helmet’s effectiveness. Whether you are a rider or the parent of a rider, you must consider three additional issues:
1. Does the helmet fit and is it adjusted correctly – some studies show that over 90% of riders wear their helmet incorrectly
2. Is the helmet comfortable and will it be worn when it is hot outside
3. Does the intended wearer find its styling attractive enough to wear?
In fact, with the tests showing that helmets offer the same amount of crash protection regardless of price, these three are, perhaps, the only questions you need to ask.
When, during Cycle-for-Health programs in schools around the state, I ask kids why they don’t wear helmets, they usually say because they are good riders. So we talk about famous, helmeted athletes ranging from Tom Brady to Tony Hawk to Lance Armstrong. I try to make one point: that being a great rider – or athlete – doesn’t mean that you are immune from things you can’t control…like wayward dogs, potholes or drivers…the avoidance of which can cause you to fall and bump your head.
The good news from these Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute tests is that – as long as it is on your head correctly – one helmet is as good as the next.