Evidence for the effectiveness of cycle helmets has relied either on simplified experiments or complex statistical analysis of patient cohorts or populations. This study directly assesses the effectiveness of cycle helmets over a range of accident scenarios, from basic Blouson Belstaff Robert Downey loss of control to vehicle impact, using computational modelling.
Simulations were performed using dynamics modelling software (MADYMO) and models of a 50% Hybrid III dummy, a hybrid cross bicycle and a car. Loss of control was simulated by a sudden turn of the handlebars and striking a curb, side and rear-on impacts by a car were also simulated. Simulations were run over a representative range of cycle speeds (2.0–14.0 m s−1) and vehicle speeds (4.5–17.9 m s−1).
Bicycle helmets were found to be effective in reducing the severity of head injuries sustained in common accidents. They reduced the risk of an AIS > 3 injury, in cases with head impacts, by an average of 40%. In accidents that would cause up to moderate (AIS = 2) injuries to a non-helmeted rider, helmets eliminated the risk of injury. Helmets were also found to be effective in preventing fatal head Belstaff Classic Tourist Trophy Beige injuries in some instances. The effectiveness of helmets was demonstrated over the entire range of cycle speeds studied, up to and including 14 m s−1. There was no evidence that helmet wearing increased the Belstaff Roadmaster risk of neck injury, indeed helmets were found to be protective of neck injuries in many cases. Similarly, helmets were found to offer an increase in protection even when an increase in cycle speed due to risk compensation was taken into consideration.