1. Impact to the lower face is transmitted via the jaw to the skull.

2. The chin strap forces the jawbone upward.

3. The brain stem is severed.

Despite the scrupulousness of his methods, Dr. Rodney Cooter has been the victim of some absolutely vicious attacks. Why? Because he has dared to show that helmets can be deadly.

Australian Researchers Find Helmets To Be Killers

Chin Straps Kill Like A Hangman's Noose

Reprint from the Australian Post, December 2, 1989

Easyriders # 206 - August 1990

Researchers at Adelaide's world-renowned Cranio Facial Unit have found the standard helmet worn by 80% of riders may cause fatal injures rather than act as a lifesaver.

The unit has discovered flaws in helmet design that contribute to fatal injuries the rider's skull base is fractured as if he were hanged!

The Cranio Facial Unit has joined the South Australian Centre for Manufacturing to design a new helmet to reduce fatal injuries.

For four years, researchers, Doctor Rodney Cooter and Unit Chief Mr. David David have been studying: injuries caused by various accidents to see if there was a pattern.

"We looked at the influence of things such as spectacles, dentures and, of course, helmets," Dr. Cooter told the Post. "It surprised us that when motorcyclists' suffered a lot of facial fracturing they often had little or no brain damage. It seemed their faces had absorbed most of the impact.

On the other hand, we examined riders who had been wearing full-face helmets and had suffered little face injury yet died from skull-base fractures often running from ear to ear."

The findings were backed by accident reports from both Europe and the United States.

"Naturally, we were keen to find out why these injuries were occurring and the best way was to examine where and how a dead rider's head had impacted on the inside," Dr. Cooter said.

Rather than cutting helmets into sections, Dr. Cooter decided on a novel approach subjecting helmets to CAT scans at Adelaide Children's Hospital.

One individual who showed keen interest in the research was Formula One Racer Ayrton Senna.

"While in Adelaide for the 1987 Grand Prix, he came to the hospital and I showed him the CAT' scans we'd performed on helmets and the X-rays of riders' heads," Dr. Cooter said.

Senna was fascinated and eager to help. He lent Dr. Cooter two of his own helmets, which were subjected to a scan from different angles.

"Our research led us to conclude that the modern full-face helmet has a weak aspect," Dr. Cooter said. "They have been designed not to break on impact, but the combination of rigid face bar and position of the chin strap,. which holds the helmet tightly on the rider's head, can be lethal."

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