NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Bike helmets are not created equal. New testing has found there’s a big difference in how much protection some helmets actually provide.
For the first time, helmet testing by the Virginia Tech Helmet Lab and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has helped create safety ratings for 30 different adult models.
“All bicycle helmets sold in the United States must pass government regulations, but those tests are limited in what they evaluate,” David Zuby of IIHS said.
A test developed by Virginia Tech researchers used sensors to evaluate the six spots on a helmet that are most commonly hit during a crash. The test hit the helmets at different speeds to determine concussion protection.
Most helmets received three or four stars out of five, but these four helmets made the cut as the best available with a five-star rating:
- Bontrager Ballista MIPS
- Garneau Raid MIPS
- Bell Stratus MIPS
- Specialized Chamonix MIPS
They reportedly range in price from $75 to $200.
“It’s a safety product and if you’re paying more money, you would expect that helmet to do better. That’s not what we saw,” Prof. Steve Rowson, of the Virginia Tech Helmet Lab, explained.
Two helmets received the lowest rating of two stars, or “adequate.” These were the Lazer Genesis and Bern Watts.
Researchers say the tests will help consumers make more informed choices as deadly bike crashes increase. More than 800 cyclists were killed in crashes in 2016; the highest number since 1991.
In New York, children under 13 must wear a helmet by law. In New Jersey, anyone under 16 must wear a helmet and Connecticut requires anyone under 15 to wear a helmet.