Indexed on: 08 Oct '14Published on: 08 Oct '14Published in: Accident Analysis & Prevention
The head is the body region that most frequently incurs fatal and serious injuries of cyclists in collisions against vehicles. Many research studies investigated helmet effectiveness in preventing head injuries using accident data. In this study, the impact attenuation characteristics of three Japanese child bicycle helmets were examined experimentally in impact tests into a concrete surface and a vehicle. A pedestrian adult headform with and without a Japanese child bicycle helmet was dropped onto a concrete surface and then propelled into a vehicle at 35 km/h in various locations such as the bonnet, roof header, windshield and A-pillar. Accelerations were measured and head injury criterion (HIC) calculated. In the drop tests using the adult headform onto a concrete surface from the height of 1.5m, the HIC for a headform without a child helmet was 6325, and was reduced by around 80% when a child helmet was fitted to the headform. In the impact tests, where the headform was fired into the vehicle at 35 km/h at various locations on a car, the computed acceleration based HIC varied depending on the vehicle impact locations. The HIC was reduced by 10-38% for impacts headforms with a child helmet when the impact was onto a bonnet-top and roof header although the HIC was already less than 1000 in impacts with the headform without a child helmet. Similarly, for impacts into the windshield (where a cyclist's head is most frequently impacted), the HIC using the adult headform without a child helmet was 122; whereas when the adult headform was used with a child helmet, a higher HIC value of more than 850 was recorded. But again, the HIC values are below 1000. In impacts into the A-pillar, the HIC was 4816 for a headform without a child helmet and was reduced by 18-38% for a headform with a child helmet depending on the type of Japanese child helmet used. The tests demonstrated that Japanese child helmets are effective in reducing accelerations and HIC in a drop test using an adult headform onto a relatively rigid hard surface, i.e., simulating a road surface or concrete path. However, when the impact tests are into softer surfaces, the child helmet's capacity to decrease accelerations is accordingly reduced. Impacts into the windshield, while below the critical HIC value of 1000, indicated higher HIC values for a headform with a child helmet compared to an adult headform without a child helmet. The unpredictable nature of the results indicates further research work is required to assess how representative the stiffness of an adult headform is when compared to an actual head.