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Real Protection against Real World impacts
Why “Glancing off” helmet properties make the difference

What is the primary function of a helmet? Many believe it is to absorb impact energy, which is understandable considering that the long standing focus of helmet standards is impact absorption. However, while certainly important, attention should not be limited only to impact absorption.

 

 

In official standards the force, angle and impact position of test impact forces are clearly defined and specified. But these impacts take place under controlled laboratory conditions, and are limited by the size restrictions of functional helmet design.

 

What if a helmet is faced with severe impacts in the real world? Even helmets that pass the highest impact absorption standards in the world have limits. To help cope with these limits, another helmet feature has to work together with these impact absorption properties.

 

We are talking about the capacity of a helmet to glance-off obstacles and to slide across uneven surfaces, to minimize the chance of being caught by obstacles. We refer to this attribute as “glancing off”.

 

Physics teaches us that kinetic energy increases in proportion to the square of speed (simply put, the faster you go the more energy you carry). Therefore impacts in real world accidents can carry energy levels that are well above established standards. This suggests why “glancing off” is so important in the real world.

 

In fact, Arai’s long history of studying numerous incidents has led to a simple observation: “The higher the energy, the higher the need for glancing off objects”. This in turn results in the conclusion that “glancing off” can allow for better “impact absorption” capacity of a helmet. ”The more energy you can avoid sending into the helmet, the more absorption capacity the helmet has in reserve”.

 

The minimum official “impact absorption” capacity of helmets are set by the established international standards such as ECE or DOT. However, there is practically no standard defined or enforced to insure any level of “glancing off” properties.

 

The capacity of a helmet to “glance off” an object is therefore completely dependent on the manufacturer. Arai believes this “glancing off” factor brings about a big difference in protective characteristics in real world circumstances.

 

Strange as it may sound, this fundamental functioning of a helmet needs to start with an evaluation of the nature of the manufacturer.

 

Just four questions are enough to get a better idea about a manufacturer’s point of view in this respect:

  1. Is the manufacturer aware of this “glancing off impacts” helmet function?
    Note: This function is not stated in, or demanded by official standards.
  2.  Has the manufacturer learned, from own experience, what is actually needed to enhance this “glancing off impacts” function?
    Note: No public literature or scientific papers exist on this topic either.
  3.  Will investors and/or management agree to give priority to “glancing off impacts” function in the designs of the helmets they produce?
    Note: If so, this would prevent aero, square or edgy shell shapes and built in sun shades.
  4.  Are the manufacturer workers capable to offer “glancing off impacts” properties to their products?
    Note: Good “glancing off impacts” properties cannot be realized without the capable hands and the right mindset of dedicated people. This can only be realized in an environment of consistent pursuit for better protection. From top management level throughout the complete organization, down through all levels of manufacturing.

 

Answering these questions clarifies why Arai remains exclusive with this crucial ‘’glancing off impacts’’ function, that offers real protection against real world impacts.

 

 

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