CPSC seeks comments by May 8 on a petition to exempt certain inflatable products from bike helmet rules. The Federal Register notice (bit.ly/2FJhmuE) announcing the comment period included six questions (bit.ly/2HD4KG0) added by Commissioner Elliot Kaye. Commissioners voted 4-0 to approve docketing and to add his questions, which included:
- Skull Fractures: "Does an inflatable helmet provide equivalent or greater protection against skull fractures compared to a typical hard shell bicycle helmet? Please provide any underlying data or studies relevant to this issue."
- Concussions: "Does an inflatable helmet provide equivalent or greater protection against concussion compared to a typical hard shell bicycle helmet? Please provide any underlying data or studies relevant to this issue including identifying the source of any injury thresholds relied upon."
- Deployment Speed: "Are there any crash scenarios where the deployment of an inflatable helmet will be too slow to protect the user?"
- Helmet Performance: "What modifications to the test method in 16 CFR 1203 would be needed to evaluate inflatable helmets for the positional stability, retention system strength, and impact attenuation requirements?"
- Deployment Reliability: "What existing standards or other performance requirements could be used to evaluate the reliability and integrity of the deployment systems in inflatable helmets, such as sensors and batteries?"
- Helmet Fit: "What existing standards or other performance requirements could be used to evaluate the fit."
The petition (PSL, 3/5/18) is from the Swedish company Hövding. The helmets inflate on impact, so they sometimes are called "airbag helmets."
The company sought exemption from rules at 16 CFR 1203 for inflatable designs that meet a Swedish standard (SP 4439) It accounts for nontraditional models. Hövding also cited studies it said back claims that its products provide equivalent or even superior protection.
The existence of the petition became publicly known in January (PSL, 1/22/18) during a teleconference between the company's counsel and CPSC staff. It is dated December.