Re: Snell's response to Motorcyclist helmet article
Well, since you asked! A short preface though...
Longtime .orgers know what I do for a living. For the folks who don't know me or had forgotten, I'll just say I work in the medical field, and my specialty in the head and neck area has given me (both by training and experience) an insight into trauma in this area directly related to injuries that not only involve motorcyclists, but to unseatbelted cage drivers, passengers and back seat passengers, with regards to automobile or motorway accidents.
Although I have not done a double blind study, I have been in the trenches treating accident victims. Also, having completed training in the specialty of pathology (although I do not practice path, I've BTDT regarding accident autopsies) I can vouch for the statements regarding the consistency of brain matter stated in this article. In fact, I was amazed during the first weeks of my neurosurgery rotation how much brain surgery was actually done using only a suction device due to how delicate the brain tissue is.
The bottom line for me is whatever helmet shell and lining can keep the brain from from rapid deceleration and smashing around inside the cranium will probably do a great job for protection. I feel that Dr. Hurt's research and data are valid today. I also feel that consideration of only head trauma skews conclusions with regards to motorcycle crashes, as the entire body is involved, not just the head. As stated in the article, people can experience a survivable head injury only to die due to other body injuries.
In this context, I feel that anyone that has a passion for this sport understands (or should) that you 'pays the price of the ticket understanding that the ride might hurt'. In other words, there is no guarantee. If you want complete safety in a sport, take up fingerpainting with nontoxic materials, and even then it might be unsafe if you have an allergy to any of the stuff. No risky business in life you want? Stay indoors forever...ummm that won't work, your house may have asbestos insulation...
How's that for a prologue/prelude?
You asked the question, so here's my answer...
I'll be much less concerned about 'certification' from a particular certification agency with my future helmet purchases. I do think full face coverage is mandatory, but I will not eliminate the flip up full face helmet, or an European helmet just because it does not have a certain sticker. There is nothing that proves European standards are less than US, and possibly today they may very well be superior.
I cannot ignore the laws of physics, nor should anyone else, because physics works. (Space travel wouldn't be possible without following the laws of physics, right?) No matter how fast you were going when you high-sided, your head still only fell 10 feet or less at the pull of gravity before hitting the floor. That's the impact needed to be safe from. The fact that you slid 5 meters or 50 meters from the speed really doesn't matter. The physical material of the helmet should keep your face from being scraped off then. The rolling and tumbling after the ground hit safety, is more concerned with what body protection the rider has on while sliding across the tarmac, not the helmet.
An argument could be made for the situation where the fall is survivable, but the slide into a curb is bad...i.e. needing to survive two impacts, could be made...but until someone could prove statistically from actual data collected that less than 1% of secondary hits would not result in a broken neck in that scenario...I'll take my chances.
IOW, I'll buy my next helmet if it has some sort of testing certification, looks good to me, and most importantly...fits comfortably. (If it don't fit, nobody wears it) To put it differently, I no longer think that a Snell rating is the ultimate in safety. There are other choices.
Time and knowledge moves on. My next helmet may very well be a Snell rated helmet, because it could be an Arai or Shoei. (Both of which I currently have and use. Both of which are repeat helmet buys for me.)
However, it's nice to know that I can get as good protection (physically in the real world of trauma when all physical injuries are taken into account) with another brand helmet for my brain. The rest of me may not survive, but that's another issue.
The real bottom line for me is that a full face helmet with any of the recognized standards of certification is as good as it gets. So I won't be looking for a particular certification. My next helmet has to have one of them however.
Everyone of us has to make our own personal decision as to what is or isn't for the best for us. That's called life. If someone else disagrees, well so be it!
Quick answer to your question...many brands have been opened to my next helmet purchase decision.
Now, aren't you glad you asked??
Official Racer Dude Guy, according to a neighborhood 6 year old.
Last edited by maxib; 08-16-2005 at 10:43 PM.