Facial protection conferred by cycle safety helmets: use of digitized image processing to develop a new nondestructive test

J Trauma. 1997 Jul;43(1):78-82. doi: 10.1097/00005373-199707000-00018.


Cycle safety helmets are designed to prevent head injury. Although most commercially available helmets conform to one of several national and international standards, individual designs differ widely, particularly in relation to face coverage. A method was developed to assess the potential for the differing designs to protect the face from injury. A nonimpact test was assessed, using digitized image-processing software (Digithurst Ltd.) to measure the shadow cast by a helmet rim under a collimated plane light source onto the face of a mannequin headform. Twelve helmet designs available internationally were tested and ranked with respect to the direct protection conferred (area of the face directly covered by the helmet) and indirect protection (area of the face shaded). The three highest-ranking helmets for direct protection (Rosebank Stackhat, Asphalt Warrior, and Lazer Voyager) also ranked the highest for indirect protection. These helmets were more inferiorly extended and were of a more bulky construction. It was concluded that the dimensions of cycle helmets in relation to face coverage are crucial in influencing the extent to which facial protection is conferred. International test standards need urgent revision to ensure that face coverage is optimized. Lower-face protection could be achieved through incorporation of a lower-face bar to cycle helmets.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Computer-Aided Design*
  • Facial Injuries / prevention & control*
  • Head Protective Devices*
  • Humans
  • Motorcycles*