Helmet-mounted Bluetooth communicators and action cameras are commonplace nowadays. Whether it’s integrated into your brain bucket or slapped on after the purchase, the market offers options galore. Due to the ubiquity of helmet accessories, the United Nations had to take them into consideration when releasing the latest Economic Commission of Europe (ECE) 22.06 standards.
The new safety rules will apply to 47 countries and coexist with the current ECE 22.05 regulations before fully replacing them completely by July 2023. After 20 years without a significant update, the latest ECE standards will vastly overhaul the helmet testing apparatus, procedures, and data analysis. Of course, helmet accessories now factor into that equation, as the addition of a communication device or camera may alter the shell’s profile and its performance in a crash.
New to the ECE certification process, helmets will now undergo impact tests at oblique angles. To ensure the helmet mitigates rotational forces on the rider’s head, the governing body will evaluate the protection properties at a 45-degree angle collision. Past procedures only measure head-on impacts, avoiding the accessories typically mounted to the rim of the helmet.
The latest specifications call for assessing helmet both with and without accessories. Using data from the helmet’s performance sans accessories, testers can measure how the add-ons affect energy absorption and rotational protection during a crash. The rules also state that no model should be altered (drilling, removing parts, etc.) to accept accessories and that all “accessories must be fitted in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.”
Proposal 7.31.35 goes on to note that only approved accessories will be accepted and that the use of any non-approved helmet cams, visors, or comm units would invalidate the lid’s homologation. While we’re still 3 years away from the full adoption of ECE 22.06, the new statutes raise more questions about the future of the helmet accessories landscape.
Will we see more partnerships between communication device companies and helmet manufacturers? Will more Bluetooth communicator producers follow in the footsteps of Sena and start making their own helmets? Only time will tell how the market adapts to the updated ECE standards, but it should result in safer products for the consumer regardless.