Skiers Given Head Injury Warning

New Studies Show The Impact Of Skiing Accidents With And Without Helmets


A skiing collision at 30 kilometres per hour (kph) without a helmet could be fatal, new research has shown.

Studies conducted by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) on behalf of insurance firm Direct Line suggested the g-force on a person's head is between three and four times greater when they are not using head protection, compared to a skier who is wearing a helmet.

The scientific analysis also concluded that the head experiences a force of nearly two tonnes during an accident at just 20 kph when headgear is not worn.

Although many insurers - including Direct Line - do not require winter sports enthusiasts to wear helmets, the company felt it was important to highlight the huge amount of damage that skiing collisions can cause.

TRL researchers used crash test dummies to simulate six accidents at different speeds and three key areas of the body were monitored for potential injuries.

As well as the head, the scientists kept a close eye on the chest and neck.

They found the compression on a skier's neck was decreased slightly when they were wearing a helmet, although this was not enough to prevent serious injuries such as fractured vertebrae.

Having conducted numerous tests at ten and 20 kph, the team came to the conclusion that a person who was not wearing a helmet would most likely risk fatal injury if they crashed while travelling at 30 kph.

The use of helmets in winter sports is a divisive issue and arguments over whether or not they should be made compulsory for all skiers continue to rumble on.

Tom Bishop, head of travel insurance at Direct Line, said he would "strongly encourage" skiers and snowboarders to wear approved headwear.

"We deal with around 3,000 winter sports claims per year, the majority of which will be medical, and unfortunately three or four of these per year will be fatalities. Even one fatality is one too many," he commented.

Expert Opinion
This research is an interesting insight into what people could face if they do not have access to the necessary headgear and shows the significant difference that a helmet could mean to a skier.

"We are now reaching the time of year when a great number of people will be looking to enjoy sports such as skiing and this is a timely reminder that both they and organisers of those activities need to think about their safety particularly where the head is concerned."
Neil Whiteley, Partner