Australia’s New Helmet Certification Standards

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Australia’s new ECE 22.06 helmet certification standards will be coming into effect in June 2023. This is a modern revision of the previous standard ECE 22.05, which we discussed in a previous article. As time goes on, Australian Standards AS/NZS 1698 is expected to be phased out. While ECE 22.05 and AS/NZS 1698 helmets are both road legal in Australia, ECE 22.06 introduces more vigorous testing with stricter criteria.

The European standard, ECE 22.05, has been around for almost 20 years, which is long outdated given our current knowledge of safety and technological advancements. Currently, impact tests are carried out by placing a headform inside a helmet and dropping it at a predetermined speed. ECE 22.06 will introduce a much wider range of speeds, more impact points, and different types of anvils. These include flat, sloping and kerb shaped anvils.

So what happens to ECE 22.05 Helmets?

ECE 22.05 helmets will still be available for sale until June 2023. ECE 22.06 will then be the street-legal requirement for applicable countries when the date arrives. You’ll still be able to wear your helmet if it is ECE 22.05 certified and you have purchased it before ECE 22.06 comes into effect. Just keep in mind that you should be replacing your helmet at least every 5 years.

Australia's New Helmet Certification Standards
Pictured: Key changes from ECE 22.05 to ECE 22.06

Pictured above is a list of the key changes between ECE 22.05 and 22.06. These new tests are set to affect different types of helmets in different ways, as outlined below.

Visors

In one of the tests, a steel ball will be fired at 60m/s at the visor. For it to be deemed safe, it must not fracture or deform. The housing also must not break into pieces or lose the capability to hold the visor in position. Additionally, every sun shield must be removed separately from the visor with a simple movement. Helmets that have a sun shield must be tested with the sun shield in the working position. Peripheral vision is then tested to ensure that the rider’s vision isn’t obscured. The amount of light transmitted through the visor is then measured to ensure a minimum level of visibility.

Modular Helmets

Modular Helmets must be tested both with and without the facial shield in place. It is then tested with the chin bar in both the lowered and the locked position.

Accessories

All helmets sold with accessories must be appraised to ensure that the additional equipment does not affect the integrity or functionality of the helmet or visor. They will be tested both attached and detached from the helmet. Particular attention is paid to energy absorption, sharp edges and field of vision. Externally mounted intercoms devices may no longer be compliant with this new certification.

Pictured: Arai helmet with Speaker Accessories.

Reflective stickers

All helmets must include reflective stickers in the box and clear instructions on where to place them to ensure maximum rider visibility.

Impact Testing

ECE 22.06 now takes official accessories such as sun visors and OEM externally fitted mounts into consideration. During the impact test, these parts are tested to ensure that they do not damage the rider’s helmet or head. Testing is carried out at 6.0m/s, 7.5m/s and 8.2m/s, which covers the range of low to high-speed impacts. Although 8.2m/s is only 29.5km/h, it is designed to test against survivable impacts. At high speeds, the rider typically sliding, therefore the full amount of force from the crash is improbable to be localised on the head.

For ECE 22.05, helmets are only tested at 4 different points on the shell and chin guard. With the new certification, helmets must pass 3 impact tests chosen from a set of 12 predetermined impact points (pictured below). This means that manufacturers can no longer strengthen the helmet in the original four test locations to ensure their helmets pass the certification.

Australia's New Helmet Certification Standards
Pictured: The red dots are the 12 impacts points that are tested

Oblique Test

New sensors inside the helmet will be capable of measuring rotational acceleration and resultant forces on the brain. Helmets will be tested by falling on a bar anvil surface covered by 80-grade aluminium oxide abrasive paper. The helmets will be dropped at a rate of 8.5m/s at different angles to ensure the test covers all possible areas of impact. This is an excellent test of both abrasion resistance and forces exerted on the brain. The helmet then gets a Brain Injury Criterion (BrIC) score. A visualisation of these tests is pictured below.

Pictured: Oblique Test angles.

Helmet Shell Deformation

Helmets are now required to pass deformation tests with the new ECE 22.06 certification. Environmentally conditioned helmets are tested for deformation on the sides, then on the front and back at a 630 Newton Load (~64Kg). The deformations in the shell are then measured and compared to set criteria. Helmets can only pass this test if they deform less than 40mm under maximum load and 15mm under the minimum load of 30 Newtons.

Conclusion

Since it has been almost 20 years since the last ECE revision, it is great to hear that the latest update to the certification has arrived. The amount of technology that has become mainstream since the last revision and the latest safety knowledge combine to make a far more comprehensive, strict, and effective set of rules a manufacturer must abide by to sell their product. Australia’s new helmet certification standards will ensure that every rider will have the appropriate equipment to protect them in the case of an accident.

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