The majority of fatal and serious injuries to two wheeled motor vehicle users are attributed to head injuries. By developing test criteria for protective helmets that will better protect the head and brain in the event of an impact, the number of casualties should be reduced. Significant improvements to the international crash helmet standard (UN-ECE Regulation 22) have been achieved and further requirements entered into force in June 2000. Developments of standards for the longer term are being co-ordinated initially through a European Co-operation in the Field of Scientific and Technology Research (COST) project. This project brings together the combined research efforts of France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Although not a signatory, Finland is also participating. The principle objective is to establish the tolerance of the human head and neck to the main injuries sustained by motorcyclists and, based on this, to propose a specification for testing the next generation of motorcycle helmets. The COST project is to establish the tolerance of the head to impact so that helmet design can be optimised and has been extended to include physiological and ergonomic aspects such as comfort, noise and ventilation.
This project will investigate the tolerance of the human head and brain to linear and rotational accelerations as a result of impacts, and then seek to establish a test criteria for protective helmets that will ensure the optimum protection is offered within the physical constraints of the helmet size and the materials available for use.
The project will also investigate alternative materials for improved energy absorption characteristics and develop a prototype helmet using such materials that will optimise the protection available to the wearer.