Each current innovation has a remarkable history that defines its survival. In the 1960s, a tragic cycling accident motivated doctors and manufacturers to design cycling helmets that would protect the riders from the crash impacts. The work of the Snell Memorial Foundation is still proving important to the present-day riders. However, commercial interests seem to override the interest of safety standards in the designing of cycling helmets. Helmets began from thin and soft leather-like headgears to outstanding innovations such as the aerodynamic designs that used improved materials like the cork linings, fiberglass shells, polystyrene material, and the canvas. The most troubling issue is that cycling helmets are no longer protective as earlier perceived.
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After several successful endeavors in technology and mass production, human intelligence began focusing on enhancing the safety of the manufactured products (Neiman 216). One of the products that often predispose people to serious road hazards is a motorcycle. Due to its association with several road carnages and fatalities, the motorcycle inventors sought to develop the motorcycle helmets as remedies to minimize the impact of the cycling injuries that lead to serious crashes and head impacts. Due to their safety proof, America and other developed nations have implemented various motorcycle helmet legislation to support their effective manufacturing and use to reduce the head impacts (Neiman 221). As time goes, helmet technology seems to reshape rapidly to enhance skull protection. This report provides a comprehensive analysis of the helmet product, its ethical concerns, its designing, and its end success.
Historical background and Motivation
Helmet, as the most precious safety equipment, has a long history in its innovation and progress across the world (Melissa 230). Pipe explains that the idea behind the development of helmets began with the tragic death of Lawrence of Arabia, who was an infamous and honored British soldier, who fought during the First World War (24). His military career was so relevant to the British government, and his historical participation in the British military exists in books until today. According to Pipe (39), his mysterious death from head injuries after a tragic motorbike crash caught the attention of the politicians and civilians. Several people mourned his death including the neurosurgeon, Dr. Hugh Cairns, who felt deeply hurt by the death of Lawrence. This historical tragedy, according to Melissa (219), inspired an innovation on how to protect motorcyclists from the head injuries, when they encounter a crash.
The Design Issues
The helmet innovation began with the development of the Crash Helmet. It began when Professor C.F. Lombard of the South California University, designed and patented a motorbike helmet (Pipe 85). The first design began with the development of the internal layer, which was to absorb shock and disperse the shock impact. The first problems with the design were the shape, the weight, and the method of securing the helmet from the head itself (Pipe 35). The helmets were extremely heavy, prone to damage, affected the head comfort of the riders, and could hardly absorb the impacts during the motorbike crashes (Pipe 43). Other helmets comprised of leather material, which was thin and soft, thus providing minimal protection. The riders required lighter helmets with a well-shaped internal side. This means that the traditional materials were incapable of meeting the required helmet standards.
The Problem-Solving Methods
At the beginning of the 1970s, the Snell Memorial Foundation initiated the first design standards for the motorcycle helmets in the United States to improve the helmet innovation (Melissa 225). The initial solutions to dealing with helmet safety were legal and included the Highway Safety Act of 1966 and the formation of the American National Safety Standards for motorbike helmets (Pipe 119). Such endorsements of the helmet standards brought about the enactment of helmet manufacturing standards. Helmets from the cork coating and fiberglass shells then emerged as part of the helmet manufacturing standards (Pipe 102). The helmets became popular because they offered better protection than the earlier models. Although the helmets managed to protect the main parts of the head, they failed to offer protection to the vital parts of the face. The riders were still vulnerable to the crash impacts.
Advantages and Disadvantages of the Methods
The first advantage of the helmets made of cork coating and fiberglass was their resistance to crash. Such innovations enhanced the protection of the skull from the crash injuries (Granacher 286). The second advantage of these forms of helmets was their ability to protect people from the dust and offer a comfortable ride without any significant disturbances in the inner part of the helmets. The first disadvantage of the improved helmets was the absence of facial protection such as the eye shields, the faceplates, or any form of face protection (Granacher 301). Such designs of the motorbike helmets offered minimal protection to the crucial parts of the face. People continued to die, while others encountered serious skull injuries and facial bruises. It was until late 1981s when they introduced helmets with aerodynamic designs.
The Critical Parts of Design and Development Process
The critical parts of the motorcycle helmets included the headcover for the head protection, facial protection, ventilation, ear protection, and the impact shields. The early development of the helmet began with the thin and soft leather ordinary leather, which acted as the head covers (Granacher 315). Later, motorbike manufacturers, Mr. Moss, and Dr. Eric Gardner incorporated the cork linings, fiberglass shells, polystyrene material, and canvas to create the head covers (Granacher 423). Although most parts of the head seemed protected and safe from the crash impacts, the sections of the face were still vulnerable. The facial protection was missing and the helmet innovation still seemed ineffective (Granacher 455). In the 1980s, the protective face glasses emerged as a means of providing facial protection. The helmet face glasses then later developed to the facedown and the face-up models, which are now prominent among the riders.
The Ultimate Success in Helmets
The ultimate success in the manufacturing of the helmets came in the 1980s when the Snell Memorial Foundation strengthened its safety testing measures on the helmets. All helmets were to comply with the government’s manufacturing standards before they would receive labels for endorsing their commercial safety (Granacher 334). After several successful tests, companies began manufacturing motorcycle helmets o aerodynamic design, with powerful shock-absorbing materials. Motorbike helmets made from the cork linings, fiberglass shells, canvas, and polystyrene, are some of the ultimate successes in the production of the motorbike headgears (Blair and Barth 37). Several tests made concerning the suitability of the motorcycle helmets reveal that the helmets have reduced the head injuries that result from crash impacts by approximately 65% over the years (Blair and Barth 64). Helmets have now become the essential cycling elements in the civil world and motorsports.
The tragic road crash and death of the British military officer marked the beginning of the innovations of the motorcycle helmets across the world. No one can undermine the gradual success of the motorcycle helmets in protecting the cyclists from the crash impacts across the world. Major innovations in the headgear and within the face have made a significant contribution to the protection of the cyclists from the head trauma that results from deadly crashes. However, the remarkable innovations of the Snell Memorial Foundation have helped to reduce the deadliness of the motorbike crashes, but have to certain extents, failed to manage the manufacturing standards of the helmets. Although the helmets seem necessary in the public and motorsport cycling, there are serious concerns in the production of the helmets.
Opinion, Evaluations, and Suggestions
Head traumas are nowadays fewer traumas due to the presence of cycling helmets, which are part of the motorbike riding gears endorsed by the laws. However, my personal opinion is that the production of the helmets seems manipulated by the manufactures for their commercial interests and not for the safety of the riders (Blair and Barth 41). In an ethical evaluation, the manufacturing of motorcycle helmets is nowadays a business, not a safety priority. According to the U.S report on the efficiency of the modern helmets concerning road crashes, cycling traumas have reemerged. The Dorsch helmets have caused 90% fatalities from 1987, the Wasserman helmets have recorded about 82% skull fractures, while the McDermott helmets have reported about 39% head injuries ((Blair and Barth 73). The Snell Foundation is nowadays ineffectual and helmet laws have become insignificant. My main suggestion is that companies must be responsible for manufacturing counterfeit cycling helmets.
Blair, Diane, and Jay Barth. Arkansas Politics and Government, Nebraska, United States: U of Nebraska Press, 2005. Print.
Granacher, Robert. Traumatic Brain Injury: Methods for Clinical and Forensic Neuropsychiatric Assessment, Second Edition, London, United Kingdom: CRC Press, 2007. Print.
Neiman, Melissa. “Motorcycle Helmet Laws: The Facts, What Can Be Done to Jump-Start Helmet Use, and Ways to Cap Damages.” Journal of Health Care Law and Policy 11.2 (2008): 215-248. Print.
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Pipe, Jim. World War One, A Very Peculiar History, London, United Kingdom: Andrews UK Limited, 2012. Print.