INEFFECTIVENESS OF HELMETS AND 
DETRIMENTAL EFFECTS OF HELMET USE


BY MICHAEL E. HOLT, P.E.
PRESIDENT, AMERICAN EAGLE ENGINEERING, LTD.
EX-PRESIDENT, RIDERS FOR JUSTICE
REGISTERED ENGINEER IN CALIFORNIA, COLORADO,
NEBRASKA, NEW MEXICO, AND WYOMING

SEPTEMBER 17, 1989

AMERICAN EAGLE ENGINEERING, LTD.
Loveland, Colorado 80538





TABLE OF CONTENTS



HELMET TESTING..................................1 

MATHEMATICAL CALCULATIONS....1 & 2 

SPINAL CORD INJURIES.......................2 & 3 

EFFECTS ON COORDINATION.............3
AND MOBILITY 

HEAT BUILD-UP.......................................4 

JAPANESE CONTROL OF.......................4
AMERICAN INDUSTRY 

SAFETY MARGIN.....................................4 & 5 

PERVERSION OF STATISTICS..............5 


The purpose of this report is to show through testing, engineering mathematics, true statistics and actual injuries that helmet usage is overall detrimental instead of beneficial. 

HELMET TESTING 

In 1986, Riders for Justice and American Eagle Engineering, Ltd. started testing helmets by a drop method. We used a ten foot drop with a total weight of helmet and mock head of eight to ten pounds. Generally, total weight was 8.5 pounds which generated 85 foot pounds of force. All of the helmets dropped failed to protect the head inside of the helmet. The tests were filmed with a video camera. The film was slowed so the effects of actual impact could be observed By slowing the film, it was apparent that the helmet flexed and caused the chin strap to draw tight across the throat. In several cases, the chin strap actually cut the mock head at the throat. We also tested stocking caps and leather flyers or "snoopy" caps. The leather flyer cap tested better for head protection than most of the helmets and did not draw tight across the throat. The stocking caps were better than some of the helmets. 

MATHEMATICAL CALCULATIONS 

Before any testing was done, it was calculated mathematically that the current helmets would not be effective as head protection. The calculations are as follows: 

KE = WH KE = Kinetic Energy

= w/g V2 V = Velocity

V = at W = Weight

g = at2 H = Height

g = Acceleration of Gravity

t = Time

a = Distance

KE = w/g (at)2


The foregoing is a Newton equation. 

Some calculations by Ed Armstrong, P.E. show the following helmet thicknesses required at various speeds for a 170 pound rider, with deceleration of the brain being the controlling factor. 

IMPACT VELOCITY HELMET THICKNESS

(mph) (inches)

4         1
10       1.8
15          4
20      6.5
30      15
40      29

Currently, we have 1" helmets available to us which weigh from 2 to 4.5 pounds. If we were to use a 6" thick helmet, it would weigh 15 to 20 pounds. The current 4 pound helmets put a terrible strain on the neck without impacting on anything. On impact, they increase the bending moment to the neck by more than double. The neck is a weak link, and the smaller and weaker the neck, the more likely the neck is to receive injury. There have been many young people who have become quadriplegics due to the effects of a helmet. A female passenger on a motorcycle is twice as likely to die as the operator. This is probably due to the smaller, weaker neck on a female. 

SPINAL CORD INJURIES 

In 1986, the Colorado Department of Health printed the first annual report of the Colorado Spinal Cord Injury Early Notification System. The report shows that 4 of the spinal cord injuries were wearing helmets, but only one of the injuries was not wearing a helmet. In 1987, the report included Wyoming as well as Colorado. There were 5 helmeted injuries and 8 non-helmeted injuries from motorcycle accidents. In 1988, they did not differentiate between helmeted and non-helmeted riders. (Probably because we used the statistics to prove helmets do cause neck injuries). 

We have included a report performed by the U.S. Navy entitled, "The Cervicocranium and the Aviator's Protective Helmet". This report shows that the aviator or pilot is often killed or made paralyzed by the helmet he wears (only military pilots wear helmets). Bear in mind these are the best helmets our tax dollars can buy.
Also included in this report is a study by Utah Highway Safety Division showing that helmet usage has shown no evidence of reducing head injuries.  Another study by University of Utah shows a 40 to 65% reduction in hearing by someone wearing a helmet over someone not wearing one.  American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma has published in 1980 a pamphlet on techniques of helmet removal from injured patients. In this pamphlet, they state "The rescuer who removes a helmet improperly might inadvertently aggravate cervical spine injuries". In England, you must be licensed to remove a helmet from someone. This should tell anyone there are some definite problems with helmets. 

EFFECTS ON COORDINATION AND MOBILITY 

One of the points seldom mentioned about helmet use is their effect on coordination and mobility. Riding a motorcycle well requires manual dexterity, mobility and certain athletic ability. Wearing a helmet has a very strong detrimental effect on coordination, mobility, and manual dexterity. To emphasize the adverse effects of a helmet, put one on and try to play tennis, golf or go swimming. Peripheral vision is also lost with most helmets. You could not pass a drivers test for peripheral vision if you were wearing a helmet. 

HEAT BUILD-UP 

Helmets do cause heat build-up inside of them, which is a real problem in the desert. There have been some recent articles which state they only cause body temperature to increase 2 degrees. Body temperature is an overall measurement. The head itself will sometimes reach temperatures causing dizziness and fainting. We all know regulating our head temperature helps to regulate the rest of our body temperature. 

JAPANESE CONTROL OF AMERICAN INDUSTRY 

Most of the helmets today are produced in foreign countries. This is mainly due to product liability evasion. Forcing people to buy helmets will cause much more of our money to be sent to foreign countries, thereby furthering our imbalance of trade. Japanese motorcycle manufacturers produce the majority of the helmets sold in this country. It seems as though our D.O.T. standards are set around their helmets, standards which are not acceptable in England. Until the Japanese motorcycles infiltrated our country, there was not any pro-helmet use for street bikes. But since the propaganda has steadily rolled out of Japan, they have managed to start and control the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, which is the only motorcycle training course that is recognized in the United States. This is a course which encourages people to buy their products instead of American products. The same people from Japan who control the Motor- cycle Industries Council also control the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. 

SAFETY MARGIN 

Another reason for deaths to rise in mandatory helmet law states is people normally ride in what they feel is a safe manner or "safety margin". Most ride faster and more reck- lessly with a helmet on because they feel it extends their "safety margin". An example of this is the Canyon Racers who wear helmets and ride recklessly and insanely.  A common statement made by pro-helmet law people is "If one life is saved it's worth having a mandatory helmet law". But if one life is lost or someone becomes a quadriplegic, is it still worth it? 

PERVERSION OF STATISTICS 

There is a typical perversion of statistics by pro-helmet law people as follows: 

A) Only 40% of motorcyclists deaths were wearing helmets: Actually only 40% were reported as not wearing helmets. The other 20% were undetermined. From RFJ research on accidents, we found the helmet and non-helmet deaths to be equal or slightly more wearing helmets. 

B) The majority of motorcyclists wear helmets: In certain areas such as large metropolitan areas (Denver), this is true. However, in rural areas or away from Denver/ Colorado Springs military areas, less than 10% wear helmets. 

C) The fatality rate has increased with repeal of helmet laws: It is actually lower for non-helmet law states than helmet law states. The injury and death rate in Colorado was never higher per accident than during the helmet law years. (See enclosed graph).




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PHD Note: The two 'Utah' studies were not included within the package we received.
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