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Snell Children’s Helmet Standard

Snell and FIA Institute Develop Joint Youth Motorcycle Helmet Standard

The Snell Memorial Foundation and the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) plan to publish a new crash helmet standard designed specifically for use by young riders.

The helmet, which has been developed by the FIA Institute for Motor Sport Safety, is the first of its kind to be designed for children and teenagers rather than adults.

The proposed standard (Snell – FIA CMH-2007) is intended to encourage the manufacturing of lighter, more protective and better fitting headgear for use in children’s motor-sport competition, such as karting, motocross and off-road motorcycle activities.  There are two types of standards: one for children ranging from 6 to 11 years old and another for youth from 12 to 15 years old.  Each grouping also has different weight and size limitations.

The need for such a helmet was first identified by American orthopedic surgeon Dr. Terry Trammel, a motor sport specialist, and expert race medic Dr. Steve Olvey.  They found that smaller versions of adult helmet designs — all that are currently available on the market — were of inappropriate geometry and mass.  Trammel and Olvey, both Fellows of the FIA Institute, collected size and mass data using young volunteer subjects.

Under the guidance of FIA Institute project manager Andrew Mellor, this data was used to build 3D surface models of the heads and shoulders of young motor sport competitors.  These models were used to create the first prototype helmets.

Despite the significant weight reduction the helmet has been designed to pass all of the stringent tests required by Snell and the FIA.  These comprise tests involving impact, roll-off, dynamic retention, shell penetration and visor penetration.

The proposed Snell/FIA CM2007 Standard addresses the worldwide need for age-appropriate helmets for young children participating in various motor-sport activities.

In the United States alone, there were three-fold increases in off-track dirt bike and mini-bike head injuries sustained by children between 1997 and 2002 according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).  Many of the injuries linked to these activities occur in children under the age of 16.

Most existing motor-sport helmets used by children are actually designed for adults.  Children, especially those under 12-years old, have very different physiological characteristics from adults in terms of head size and neck strength.

Adult full face helmets may be much too heavy.  The chin straps may be poorly suited to the child’s shorter face and smaller chin.  Even with a good match to head circumference, because of children’s shorter neck lengths and head heights, the bottom edges of a full face helmet may contact a child’s shoulders well before the crown of the helmet touches the top of his/her head.

Snell/FIA CMH-2007

The proposed Snell/FIA CMH-2007 Standard distinguishes between children from age 6 to 11 and 12 to 15 years old.

For ages 6 to 11, the helmet weight should not exceed 1100g or 1200g if configured with face shields.  For ages 12 to 15 years old, the helmet weight should not exceed 1250g or 1350g if configured with face shields.  For both age groups, the helmet impact test velocity is the same exacting level as for adult motorcycle or special application helmets.

It is intended that Motocross and off-road children’s helmets meeting the proposed Snell/FIA CMH-2007 standard may also be authorized for use on public roads if the manufacturer additionally achieves certification to the relevant standards such as DOT or ECE R22-05.

We will post more information as it becomes available.  For more information, contact the Snell Memorial Foundation or the FIA Institute for Motor Sport Safety.

NOTE:  This is a developing story.  It’s unclear at this point what the new label may look like or what it will be called.  If you have further information regarding this topic that you’d like to share with others, please send it to.

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