As the number of motorcycle accidents increase in the UK, an impact to the head continues to be the most significant cause of fatal and serious injuries. Some 80% of all fatalities during motorcycle accidents are caused by head injuries.
The European COST 327 research Action concluded that if helmets could be improved to provide 24% more protection, some 20% of AIS 5-6 casualties could be reduced to AIS 3-4. New test methodologies and limit values were proposed, including performing linear impact tests at an increased speed of 8.5m/s compared with 7.5m/s for the European Regulation ECE 22-05 - an increase in energy of 30%.
A concurrent UK Department for Transport (DfT) funded project, S100L/VF, developed a helmet prototype which was aligned with the COST 327 objectives and achieved more than 60% improved protection during both linear and oblique impacts. It was concluded that if all riders wore helmets with equivalent safety performance, up to 100 lives a year could be saved in the UK.
In response to the findings of COST 327 and S100L/VF, the DfT has funded a research programme with TRL which has overall objectives to improve helmet and visor test methods, evaluate new helmet concepts and devise a consumer information scheme so as to facilitate worthwhile improvements in helmet and visor design to reduce fatal head injuries and mitigate environmental factors.
Given the potential for reducing the number of motorcycle fatalities, the project has considered various mechanisms to delivery safer helmets to the market place. A regulatory impact assessment reviewed three options:
1. Do nothing;
2. Introduce legislation for safer helmets to COST 327 recommendations; and
3. Introduce a Consumer Information Scheme to encourage safer helmets to COST 327 recommendations
It was concluded that a consumer information scheme would provide the most rapid delivery to the market of helmets offering improved head protection and that this could be the first step towards improved regulations in the future.

Want to know more about this project?