The Snell Memorial Foundation and the FIA plan to publish a new crash helmet standard designed specifically for use by young drivers. The helmet, which has been developed by the FIA Institute for Motor Sport Safety, is the first of its kind to be designed for children and teenagers rather than adults.
The proposed standard (Snell/FIA CMH-2007) is intended to encourage the manufacturing of lighter, more protective and better fitting headgear for use in children’s motor-sport competition, such as karting, motorcross and off-road motorcycle activities. There are two types of standard – for 6- to 11-years old and 12- to 15-years old – with different weight and size limitations.
The need for such a helmet was first identified by American orthopaedic surgeon Dr Terry Trammel, a motor sport specialist, and expert race medic Dr Steve Olvey. They found that smaller versions of adult helmet designs — all that are currently available on the market — were of inappropriate geometry and mass. Trammel and Olvey, both Fellows of the FIA Institute, collected size and mass data using young volunteer subjects.
Under the guidance of FIA Institute project manager Andrew Mellor, this data was used to build 3D surface models of the heads and shoulders of young motor sport competitors. These models were used to create the first prototype helmets.
Despite the significant weight reduction the helmet has been designed to pass all of the stringent tests required by Snell and the FIA. These comprise tests involving impact, roll-off, dynamic retention, shell penetration and visor penetration.
The proposed Snell/FIA CM2007 Standard addresses the worldwide need for age-appropriate helmets for young children participating in various motor-sport activities. In the United States alone, there were three-fold increases in off-track dirt bike and minibike head injuries sustained by children between 1997 and 2002 according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Many of the injuries linked to these activities occur in children under 16-years old.
Most existing motor-sport helmets used by children are actually designed for adults. Children, especially those under 12-years old, have very different physiological characteristics from adults in terms of head size and neck strength. Adult full face helmets may be much too heavy. The chin straps may be poorly suited to the child’s shorter face and smaller chin. Even with a good match to head circumference, because of children’s shorter neck lengths and head heights, the bottom edges of a full face helmet may contact a child’s shoulders well before the crown of the helmet touches the top of his/her head.
The proposed Snell/FIA CMH-2007 Standard distinguishes between children age 6- to 11-years old and 12- to 15-years old. For 6- to 11-years olds, the helmet weight should not exceed 1100g or 1200g if configured with face shields. For 12- to 15-years old, the helmet weight should not exceed 1250g or 1350g if configured with face shields. For both age groups, the helmet impact test velocity is the same exacting level as for adult motorcycle or special application helmets.
It is intended that Motocross and off-road children’s helmets meeting the proposed Snell/FIA CMH-2007 standard may also be authorized for use on public roads if the manufacturer additionally achieves certification to the relevant standards such as DOT or ECE R22-05.
Snell Memorial Foundation, Inc.
For 50 years the Snell Memorial Foundation, Inc., a not-for-profit organization, has been internationally renowned for its dedication to scientific research, standards development, helmet testing, and public education on head injury protection. Snell currently tests and certifies helmets for auto-racing, motorcycling, bicycling, in-line skating, skiing and equestrian sports. For more information about Snell and Snell certified helmets, please visit the Snell web site: wwww.smf.org.
The FIA Institute was established in October 2004 by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile and the FIA Foundation. It receives an annual grant from the FIA Foundation to fund research projects and other safety-led activities. The objective of the FIA Institute is to promote improvements in the safety of motor sport across all disciplines from junior championships to the top level race series and from closed car to open wheel racing. www.fiainstitute.com.