Bike Helmet Safety Certification

Bike helmet safety is a critical issue for parents, pediatricians, and consumer advocates as the numbers increase in bicycle-related fatalities. To spur on innovation and safety design for helmets many government organizations took steps to establishing testing and certification procedures for all bicycle safety helmets.

In February 1999, all Bicycle Helmets for sale in the United states were required to meet the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standard for bike helmets and state that on a sticker inside. The new standard established a minimum level of head protection for impact related accidents, including stress testing of the straps to guarantee that they will be strong enough not to break in the event of a collision.

Outside the US you should be careful to look for a standards sticker that you recognize like the CEN standards in Europe or the AUS (Standards Association of Australia) standard in Australia as well as those published by the British Standards Institute

There are many organizations that have got involved in helmet certification over the years. The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), and American National Standards Institute (ANSI) certification are mostly seen on older helmets and seem to have ceded current testing procedures to the CPSC. Here is a list of the most prominate players and what certification safety stickers you should look for when buying bicylce safety helmets.

Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC):
All cycling helmets sold in the US must now meet CPSC standard. They have developed two safety standards - one for Adult and Youth helmets, and one for Infant helmets (children 1 year old and under). The difference between the two standards is the amount of coverage in the rear of the helmet. You can determine which standard a helmet meets by looking at the box label and the sticker inside the helmet.

Snell Foundation:
In 1957 a group of scientists, physicians, racing colleagues and friends teamed together to promote research, education, testing and development of standards geared to improve the effectiveness of automotive racing helmets. They have now expanded to include helmet for bicycles, equestrian events, karting, skiing and snowboarding.

Snell's newer B-95 standard for bicycle safety helmets is the most stringent standard in the market -- surpassing those set by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the American Society of Testing Materials (ASTM) and the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission's 16 CFR Part 1203

Canadian Standards Association (CSA)
CSA approved bicycle helmets must undergo a series of tests designed to simulate "real-life" conditions like falling from a bike or running into a pole or tree. They include an impact test on a flat anvil, a stability test and a chin strap test. In 1996 CSA developed the first North American test for Child bicycle helmet safety standards appropriate to the different physiology of a child's head. Helmets designed according to the new requirements will have thicker, less dense energy-absorbing material to better protect the heads of kids under the age of five. Look for this specific CSA label.

Consumer Reports Organization:
Is a independent nonprofit organization with a Testing and Research Center, in Yonkers, N.Y., Their mandate is to analyze the safety of standard consumer products, from toys to TV's. Here's a copy of their latest 2006 bicycle helmet safety tests.

And on another vein >> Multi-crash Helmets:
There is no such thing as a multi crash helmet. There is no way to know what damage a helmet has endured in any one crash, so throw it out, spend another $100. and your brain will thank you!

Key Manufacturers of Quality Bicycle Helmets:
Bell Bicycle Helmets
Giro Bicycle Helmets

More Information:
Bike Helmet: Essentials of a Great Bicycle Helmet
Snell Foundation
Canadian Standards Association (CSA)
Consumer Reports Organization
CSA Testing & Report for Bicycle Helmet Safety

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copyright Jan. 2007