Is your helmet protecting any better than 20 years ago, asks Koroyd

Carlton Reid
Is your helmet protecting any better than 20 years ago, asks Koroyd

Koroyd, maker of an impact-absorbing technology, has launched the "helmet safety initiative" to highlight that today's sport helmet standards do not test to levels which have long been common in the automobile industry for the interior of cars. The Monaco-based company makes the distinctive honey-comb-like inserts used by Smith Optics in its high-end Overtake helmet.

Koroyd is a co-polymer extrusion. The manufacturer, spun off from a British company, says that while the automotive industry has advanced the safety of cars continuously for decades, international bicycle, motorcycle and snow helmet safety standards have hardly changed in the past twenty years.

The company's helmet safety initiative aims to educate riders on the risks of suffering severe head injuries and a call to manufacturers to build the next generation of helmets, with significantly improved energy absorption capabilities.

Helmet safety standards govern the maximum allowed deceleration of the head when it impacts onto a surface. Many of the international standards allow a maximum deceleration at the reference impact velocity between 250 and 300 g, which is associated with risks between 40 and 79 per cent of suffering a skull fracture, based on head injury risk curves used in the automotive industry. These stats were developed in the 1980s by Dr Prasad and Dr Mertz of America.

The European motorcycle helmet safety standard uses a more advanced metric called the Head Injury Criterion (HIC), that not only considers the maximum deceleration, but also the time duration of the impact. While the accepted value within the automotive industry ranges from HIC 700 to HIC 1000, a motorcyclist is allowed to be exposed to HIC values up to 2400, correlating with a 97% risk of suffering a severe traumatic brain injury and a 77% risk that the impact is fatal, according to the risk curves.

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The Prasad/Mertz risk curves were developed in 1985 and are still the basis of the acceptance criteria for several test standards in many of the New Car Assessment Programs (NCAP) worldwide, like US SaferCar.gov and EuroNCAP, but are not considered for helmet safety standards.

"It just doesn’t make sense. And worst of all, it leads to too many severe head injuries and fatalities," said Dr. Prasad, member of the National Academy of Engineering, two-time winner of the NHTSA Engineering Excellence Award for Safety, commenting on the current acceptance criteria in helmet safety standards.

John Lloyd, Managing Director at Koroyd, said: "We believe the industry needs to challenge itself to finally outperform these outdated safety standards. Significantly less deceleration and less energy transferred to the skull and brain can reduce the severity of many future head injuries and save many lives. Using the knowledge on head injury tolerance from the automotive industry will allow manufacturers to confidently build helmets which offer more protection and communicate this to consumers, allowing them to make a more informed purchasing decision."

Koroyd energy absorption technology comply with voluntary lower limits of 183 g maximum deceleration and a maximum HIC value of 1666, reducing the correlated risk of suffering both skull fractures and fatal traumatic brain injuries to less than 5 per cent, says the company.

Outside the sports market Koroyd's material is used in various applications in military and automotive markets. 

Tags: helmet , smith optics , koroyd

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