How Safe is Your Bicycle Helmet? New System Rates the Best

By Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman, P.C.Auto Accident

Bike rider wearing bicycle helmet in countryside

Research on bicycle helmet use around the world found that helmets could reduce the risk of serious head trauma by up to 85 percent. A properly fitting bike helmet is one’s best defense against face and head injuries, and in the event of a serious accident, it could even save your life.

Given these statistics, it’s common sense for all cyclists to always wear a helmet, whether going for a short jaunt or an extended ride. According to the Cleveland Clinic, more than 800 bicyclists are killed each year, and hundreds of thousands more end up in the emergency room with broken bones, concussions and head injuries.

New ratings system developed to assess helmet safety

Up until recently, those in the market for a bicycle helmet had no way of knowing which model offered the best protection, other than a label issued by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). This meant the helmet had passed a safety test showing it could prevent skull fractures or severe brain injury in impact events over 300 g. The CPSC standards, however don’t take into account the factors and circumstances of real-world bike crashes, and more alarmingly, don’t test the safety of the entire helmet.

In order to solve this problem, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Virginia Tech teamed up to establish a better safety rating system for bike helmets – one that would let consumes make a more informed decision about their purchase and hopefully stay safer on the roads. The rating system was based on the collective knowledge gleaned from decades of experience assessing hockey, football and other types of head protection.

Researchers use real-world crash scenarios

The team tested the bicycle helmets for impact resistance at six locations, including two sites on the rim. Using real-world crash data, the researchers were able to better replicate the speed and angle at which a cyclist’s head will hit the road in an accident.

Risk of concussion and brain injury was estimated by measurements provided by sensors embedded in the helmet lining. Helmets that were awarded 5-star ratings (the most likely to prevent injury) all boasted a “Multi-Directional Impact Protection System” that minimized rotational forces of the head by creating a low-friction layer.

Which bike helmets performed the best? The following models earned 4 and 5-star ratings:

  • Bell Stratus MIPS
  • Bontrager Ballista MIPS
  • Specialized Chamonix MIPS
  • Garneau Raid MIPS
  • Scott ARX Plus MIPS
  • POC Octal
  • Giro Foray MIPS
  • Garneau Le Tour II
  • Bontrager Quantum MIPS
  • Smith Overtake
  • Specialized Prevail II

Interestingly, price wasn’t a reliable predictor of overall safety. A $200 helmet by Bontrager and a $75 helmet made by Specialized both garnered a 5-star rating. In the coming months, consumers can expect the team to release a safety ratings system for other helmet styles, including mountain bike versions and skate helmets.

Injured in New York or New Jersey? We can help

With more residents in New York and New Jersey taking up biking for both recreation and their daily commute, accidents between cyclists and motor vehicles are on the rise. When injured in a crash, it’s important to have a reputable Bergen County car accident lawyer review your case as you may be eligible for compensation. Whether a driver failed to yield the right of way, or you got knocked off your bike by an opening car door, Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman will bring negligent parties to justice.

Our seasoned bicycle accident attorneys represent clients throughout Rockland County, NY and Bergen County, New Jersey. Schedule a free case review by calling our toll-free number or filling out our contact form.

Additional Resources on Bike Helmet Safety: 

  1. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, New tests show some bike helmets protect better than others
  2. Cleveland Clinic, Bicycle Helmet Safety
  3. Consumer Reports, Heads-Up on Bike Helmet Safety
  4. The Guardian, Bicycle helmets reduce risk of serious head injury by nearly 70%
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