I just got a copy of "Motor Cyclist" in my mailbox this morning and was puzzled by a story about helmet construction/safety.
Quick Summary: Helmets engineered to meet SNELL standards are not versatile and poorly suited to the majority of riders. Apparently, SNELL tests put helmets through a series of very unrealistic tests that require helmets to be unnecessarily stiff in order to pass. Because these helmets are engineered to be so ridiculously stiff in order to pass the ludacris SNELL test they perform poorly in low to moderate speed crashes. Statistics show that 70% of motorcycle crashes occur at low to moderate speed. The 30% of high speed accidents usually occur at night on open roads and involve alcohol.
Motor Cyclist recruited an expert on helmet safety who had his own state-of-the-art lab set up to specifically test helmet performance. Each helmet was tested 4 times (4 different scenarios) and two of each helmet was used for the sake of testing construction consistency. Each helmet's goal was to transmit the least amount of G forces to the brain(a sensor was used in it's stead). Basically, the helmets were chuted onto a asphalt plain in order to simulate a crash.
The Results: The SNELL certified helmets performed the worst of the bunch. They transmitted a G force average ranging between 174-211 Gs. The helmets approved by only by the DOT performed the best out of the bunch, even surpassing the SNELL helmets on the high-speed test. They averaged between 152-174 Gs.
The worst scoring helmets were produced by high-end manufacturers such as ICON ARAI HJC and SCORPION. The best scoring helmets were the cheapest of the bunch--one of them purchased for under $100 from Pep-Boys.