Can a camera helmet cause helmet failure in an accident?

Discussion in 'Cycling Archive' started by geomannie, Feb 17, 2014.

  1. geomannie

    geomannie Guest

    There was a recent report in the Telegraph (and no doubt elsewhere)
    concerning Michael Schumacher's skiing accident.

    Towards the end of the report the following was stated.

    "Experts from ENSA, the world-renowned ski and climbing academy in the
    French ski resort of Chamonix, have conducted tests to determine whether
    the presence of a solid object between a helmet colliding with a rock
    would weaken the structure.

    The helmet smashed – but the camera he had attached to it, in order to
    record him and his son skiing, was undamaged. The footage, audio and
    visual, has provided police with crucial information about the crash."

    My first thought was to reject this as clutching at straws, trying to
    explain the severity of the accident, and then I got to thinking that
    maybe there is something in this. You take a well-engineered helmet, and
    then clamp a solid object to it. If you were to fall on it, I can
    intuitively see how it would concentrate the force onto the very small
    mounting area and potentially cause a crack which would propagate and
    cause the helmet to split, thereby destroying any (admittedly limited)
    protective capabilities.

    What do others think? Is using a helmet camera, or helmet light,
    increasing the risk of helmet failure?


    geomannie, Feb 17, 2014
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  2. geomannie

    kimble Guest

    Unscientifically, I reckon "yes, almost certainly".

    Pragmatically, I don't think helmets do a lot for your safety anyway,
    while lights might well do. Cameras may go either way, depending on how
    being recorded affects your cycling (Do you take more risks, secure in
    the knowledge that you'll have evidence on your side? Or take fewer
    risks, because your behaviour's being recorded? Or even actively seek
    out danger because it'll look good on Youtube?).

    I don't currently own a cycling helmet, but do sometimes ride with a
    head torch, and always ride with spectacles. I don't doubt they could
    make things worse if I landed on them, but until that point they tend to
    be beneficial.

    Helmets *do* make a convenient platform for mounting this sort of
    hardware, which seems like as good a reason to wear one as any.

    kimble, Feb 17, 2014
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  3. geomannie

    Rob Morley Guest

    Even if a helmet mount has a well designed break-away you can't remove
    the risk of landing straight on the camera or light. Something like a
    Go-Pro camera is quite a substantial lump of plastic to be sticking out
    of your head, and could turn a flat-surface impact into more of a point
    impact. A poorly designed helmet mount could easily increase risk of
    neck or rotational injury. Either way the added mass, and particularly
    its position, is going to make it harder to keep your helmet
    comfortably in place.
    Rob Morley, Feb 17, 2014
  4. Hardmounted addons, undoubtedly. Whether it makes any effective
    difference is another matter to which we know not wot of.

    Lights, mirrors, visors and even webcams can potentially fend off
    collision events that would otherwise have happened, as a plus side.

    You could improve any possible issues by using snap-off mounts, rubber
    mounts that don't impart a moment to the hard shell, velcro or

    Cheers - Jaimie
    Jaimie Vandenbergh, Feb 17, 2014
  5. geomannie

    Rob Morley Guest

    My helmet has a rear LED and a mirror attached, either of which
    would probably be a greater contributor to safety than the helmet
    itself if I ever used it.
    Rob Morley, Feb 17, 2014
  6. geomannie

    Dr Zoidberg Guest

    I wouldn't be at all surprised to see that is the case, and would think that
    you'd be safer with a camera mount that's designed to break away easily
    Dr Zoidberg, Feb 18, 2014
  7. geomannie

    Peter Clinch Guest

    Wot Jamie Sez.

    You're adding a point through which very localised (and thus high)
    pressure will potentially be applied which can contribute to failure.
    But there again if the camera/lights whatever help you avoid being in an
    accident... or OTOH etc. etc.

    Far too many variables to say at the start of a journey "yes you are
    [not] safer with this on your helmet". But at the start of an
    /accident/ where I am heading camera-mount first towards the hard
    ground, I'd personally prefer not to have it there!

    Peter Clinch, Feb 18, 2014
  8. I do rather envy hat-wearers the Reevu; never mind the foam, there's a lot
    to be said for being able to see out the back of your own head.
    David Damerell, Feb 18, 2014
  9. geomannie

    kimble Guest

    Yes. That's a helmet with an undeniable safety benefit. Shame they're
    not made any more.

    kimble, Feb 18, 2014
  10. geomannie

    Sam Wilson Guest

    We were watching some of the winter Olympics at the weekend. Some of
    the competitors in the ladies' snowboard cross event were wearing helmet
    cams with (almost) live feeds from them. No doubt it was the same for
    other events. It was noticeable that the cameras, cabled to a belt pack
    rather than GoPro style, were very loosely mounted and when a competitor
    did something ecstatic at the finishing line the camera fell off.

    Sam Wilson, Feb 20, 2014
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