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Full Face Helmets and Air Bags.


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They have just done a study about having a full face helmet with an active airbag.

It was found that with divers with full face helmets and 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"


I personal have a Open Face helmet….thought about getting a full face helmet… I will but I will disarm my airbag before I go on the track again.




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I have just 2 things to say about this finding.


First let me say that I run TT with a full face helmet. I also run a car that does not have an airbag and the other car has the airbag disconnected.


Second, regarding the broken jaw aspect of this, yes they deploy quickly, but that much force? I have seen helmets smack concrete walls and not get broken. Having worked on safety crews at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, there's not much i haven't seen in the way of accidents. I just find it hard to believe that an airbag will deploy with enough force to break a helmet and fracture a jaw.

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  • National Staff

I'd be more worried about the airbag hitting the helmet and snapping my neck back. If the helmet fits correctly, the face guard really shouldn't hit your jaw if it gets hit. However, it it's a little to big, then it could (without breaking the helmet), and that could cause a jaw fracture.

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Regarding airbags, some friends of mine were just involved in an accident where the airbags deployed. The force of the airbags surprised me.


They were on a rural road going 55-60mph when a vehicle pulled out of a side road, too late for them to avoid. Their Taurus hit a SUV broadside.


Even though it was a front end collision, the women found their glasses and other loose items they wore in the back seat. The air bag overcame the forward momentum of those items.


My understanding of airbag specs - at least US ones - is that they were supposed to protect a 200lb adult who is not belted in place. That requires significant force. Europe has lesser requirements, I believe.

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  • 1 month later...

The testing SCCA is basing thier warning on, was done on formula one style cars. The cockpit layout, driver possition, and air-bag location are not even close to a factory street car. In my eight years riding on the NASA Safety Truck, I never saw anyone break their jaw with a full face helmet/air-bag combination. This is not to say that it couldn't be done:)

It has been discussed that open face helmets are better for instructor / student communication while on track, and many people find them cooler and more comfortable. You can allways wear a balaclava, and goggles for increased protection from fire and road debree. Personal opinion, I will suffer a little discomfort for the added protection of a full face helmet and a foam helmet support. (By the time you get around to a Hutchens, or Hanns Device you should have the air bag out anyway). As for the broken jaw scenario, I just think how many times dirt and debree has come inside my car, and add that to the times when side impacts and roll overs may make the helmet support and full face helmet option advantagious. Then I subtract the one in ten times an open face MIGHT be benificial. Everybody should do the math themselves:) Air bags are not billowy and soft they are abrupt hard canvass comming at extreme speed. Wear your belts and restraints properly and have a GOOD helmet that fits.

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