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Discussion Starter #1
From National Staff
November 16, 2004.


It has been brought to the attention of SCCA Technical Services that the use of full-face or closed-face helmets while driving vehicles with active airbag restraint systems may result in injuries in the event of a crash that deploys the airbad. Because of the location of the steering wheel relative to the driver's position, the airbag axis is on a level with the driver's chin. In a crash with airbag deployment, contact with the chin area of a full face helmet can be so powerful "that the risk of fractures to the jaw cannot be ruled out" (Hubert Gramling, FIA Institute, FT3?AF, 18.5.1999). This applies to vehicles that may be used in Solo, RallyCross, High Performance Car Control Clinics, etc.


Therefore, it is highly recommended that full-face helmets not be used in vehicles with functional airbag systems. Potentially more restrictive language is currently being considered for 2005, which could appear in an early 2005 issue of FasTrack. If you have any questions, please contact the SCCA at 800.770.2055.

http://www.scca.com/_Filelibrary/Fi...bagAdvisory.pdf
 

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Discussion Starter #2
I personally use full face but my husband uses open. I think open faced are easier to see out of for autocross....but Im used to closed.
 

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If someone is about to buy a helmet for SCCA autocross...wait if you can. The issue may go away...or turn into a ban...or something else!
 

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That makes absolutely no sense to me -- perhaps the terminology is confused here

A full face helmet (with chin protection) is clearly superior. I would NEVER drive in a speed event with an open face helmet

Once you've seen severe facial trauma (I'm a plastic and reconstructive surgeon), you wouldn't choose to go with an open-face design.
 

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Why would the jaw fracture? I assume an airbag is unable to actually break the helmet. Is it that the forward motion of the head, constrained by the helmet, places all the load into the jaw rather than distributing it across the entire face as would happen if the airbag could contact that?
 

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Because the upward force rotates the helmet. Hmm, I wonder if the problem is the chin strap? Even if it is not, according to what I read, the force of the airbag is localized on the front bottom of the helmet and does not disperse over enough area.

But what I have read so far SEEMS to me that the conclusions are logically flawed.

If an airbag hitting a helmet can lead to more potential injury to the chin, does wearing an open face helmet contribute to less injury? That is not answered.

There are more potential methods of injury in a crash than just the airbag hitting the helmet.

Was there a study done that shows what the potential for injury is when an airbag hits you in the face without a fullface helmet?


I think the release of this memo may have been premature. Not sure about that, but it seems that way.


I use both full and open face helmets. I use open face for autocross because the data I have seen indicate the chance of injury to you because you did not have a full face helmet looks to be less than the chance of injury from being hit by lightning or in an accident on the way to work.

On the other hand, an open face helmet is easier to use for ventilation and sunglasses and can be lighter, and easier to drink water out of a bottle. But the biggest reason, I can talk to students a lot easier.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
it was pointed out at our SCCA board meeting last night that in 2005 all helmets ( to recieve SNELL rating) are going to be closed face. How now brown cow?
 

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OneFastLotus said:
it was pointed out at our SCCA board meeting last night that in 2005 all helmets ( to recieve SNELL rating) are going to be closed face. How now brown cow?
I'd love to know where they heard that, nothing in the requirements listed on the Snell Foundation website supports that claim.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Not sure, it was a guy named Bruce Domeck who stated it, he's a multi time national champion and roadracer. Not saying this makes what he says "scripture" but he tends to stay in the "loop" and usually doesnt say much unless he knows something for sure.

Not sure. Perhaps he was incorrect.
 

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I received an email back from Ed Becker at Snell, their Executive Director. They were unaware of the SCCA issue and are looking into it. They asked Gramling (author of the FIA paper) for more information. They have no position in the matter as of yet.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
can you ask Ed about the full face thing for 2005 for SNELL approval.


Gramling likes to dabble in alot of areas....
 

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>>>can you ask Ed about the full face thing for 2005 for SNELL approval. Gramling likes to dabble in alot of areas....<<<

Done. I'll report back when I hear more...
 

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Discussion Starter #14
well now the person who said that is saying that they just heard the "rumour" and they're not sure. Im curious to hear what you hear back. :clap:
 

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From the Snell folks:

"SA2005 will include open face configurations as well as full face. We're primarily concerned with brain injury and are pleased to recommend open as well as full face helmets. Full face headgear do seem to provide some additional facial protection, particularly for the jaw and teeth but the concerns here are quality of life rather than death or profound disability. I urge anyone looking at helmets to consider a Snell full face model first but if none of those will do, a Snell open face helmet is a reasonable alternative."
 

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This was discussed on the WRX forum (NASIOC).

I'm a dentist... so I'm quite familiar with head & neck anatomy. I've also had trauma medicine training in the Navy.

The suggestion that a full face helmet would increase injuries in the event of an airbag deployment is utterly ridiculous.

The statement, "that the risk of fractures to the jaw cannot be ruled out" is just plain stupid. "Cannot be ruled out???" Ummm... if you're going to conclude that injury is increased, then you need PROOF. That is the scientific method. I would ask they show ONE study that supports this notion. Just ONE. To say that it can't be ruled out is purely conjecture. What you need to do is RULE IT IN! If it can be a proven risk, then a change in rules is warranted. But, to use unscientific speculation as a basis for banning full-face helmets is silly at the least, and possibly very dangerous.

I'll put it this way... I would absolutely refuse to participate in an event that prohibited me from wearing a full face helmet. I wear one for HPDEs. I also wear a fire suit, even though it's not required. You see... I value my body... that includes my face and my skin.

Incidentally, the mandible is the hardest bone in your entire body. It is not easy to fracture. If you sustain an impact that fractures your jaw WITH a full-face helmet on, the fractured jaw will be the least of your concerns.... That is, if you're still of this world. Your brain is likely to separate from your spinal cord... which makes a neck brace or head-restraining device prudent.

If I was Mike Tyson and was going to punch you square in the jaw with or without facial protection, which would you choose? I'd recommend wearing the full-face helmet.

Mike
 

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"If I was Mike Tyson and was going to punch you square in the jaw with or without facial protection, which would you choose? I'd recommend wearing the full-face helmet. "

Good one Mike!
 

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That's not really a good analogy. Change it to Mike Tyson walloping your face with a 200 pound bag of sand. That's still not really accurate, but closer.

Is the choice as obvious in that case?
 

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My answer is the same. Even if Mike Tyson was going to challenge me to a pillow fight, except his was full of sand, I'd wear a helmet. It is just as much a no-brainer. In fact, there is no doubt (knowing what I know) that a jaw fracture would be MORE likely with an open-face helmet. A helmet spreads the force over a larger area. The more I can distribute the forces, the better. I'm sorry, but the chin-strap breaking the jaw just doesn't compute.

I just reread this thread and saw that "grudkin," a plastic reconstructive surgeon agrees with my line of thinking. Any doctor familiar with facial trauma would categorically dismiss this idea.

As I said before, I'd refuse to participate in an event that prohibited me from wearing a full-face helmet. In fact, if the SCCA passes this, I'll probably discontinue my membership. It is UTTERLY stupid.

Mike
 

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I think they are saying that the helmet itself would shift from the airbag force. And then the chin area of the helmet would contact the front area of the jaw leading to high forces on this part of the face. So in a sense they seem to be saying that this would concentrate the force from a large area onto a small area.
 
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