Wearing a helmet significantly reduces the risk of sustaining a serious head injury and could even prevent fatalities when skiing or snowboarding, the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) has concluded after simulating collisions using crash test dummies.
In its study on helmet safety, conducted jointly with insurer Direct Line, the researcher found evidence that skiers and snowboarders wearing a helmet experience up to four times less g-force on their head than those without protective headgear. At 20kph, the head of a person involved in a collision encounters nearly two tonnes of g-force if no helmet is worn.
For the purposes of the study, thought to be the first-ever test in the UK to use dummies to examine the impact of collisions on the slopes, the researchers simulated crashes with a tree at a speed of up to 12mph without a helmet and at a speed of 19mph with a helmet. They eventually decided not to conduct tests at the higher speed without a helmet, supposing this would smash the mannequin, meaning that a crash at a speed of 19mph would be fatal for a human.
TRL and Direct Line also established that the compression on the neck of a person skiing or snowboarding was lower when wearing the protective gear, but not sufficient to considerably limit the risk of serious neck injuries, such as a fractured vertebrae.
In recent years there has been an increase in the number of people wearing a helmet when on the slopes, but unfortunately this is yet to result in a decline in fatalities, The Telegraph commented. Head injuries account for less than a fifth of all injuries sustained by skiers and snowboarders and, although they result from collisions, they more commonly happen due to impact with the slope.