Volvo tests bicycle helmet crashworthiness against a car. Picture: SUPPLIED
Volvo tests bicycle helmet crashworthiness against a car. Picture: SUPPLIED

Cycling is a hobby practiced by many thousands of South Africans, but cars and bicycles often don’t mix well when they share roads.

Volvo Cars and Swedish sports and safety brand POC have collaborated in a series of crash tests of bicycle helmets against cars.

Accidents between bicycles and vehicles can often lead to serious injury or death for the cyclist, which is why Volvo Cars has a strategy to avoid these types of incidents with the help of active safety technologies.

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Volvo cars are already equipped with cyclist detection sensors and cameras, and these specially designed crash tests, held at the Volvo Cars safety research facilities in Gothenburg, Sweden, form part of a wider research project to understand the types of long-term injuries sustained by cyclists.

During these tests, POC bike helmets are worn by crash dummy heads mounted on a testing rig, from where they are launched towards different areas of the bonnet of a static Volvo car, at different speeds and angles for various measurements.

The tests are based on existing regulatory test procedures for pedestrian head protection. This allows Volvo Cars and POC to make a direct comparison between wearing a helmet and not wearing one. Current bike helmet-testing procedures are fairly rudimentary, involving helmets being dropped from different heights on either a flat or an angled surface, and do not take into account vehicle to bike accidents.

The Volvo-POC project aims to further refine and advance such testing while the learnings from the research project will help POC make its helmets safer and more protective in the event of a car-bike accident.

“This project with POC is a good example of our pioneering spirit in safety,” said Malin Ekholm, head of the Volvo Cars safety centre and one of the company’s leading safety engineers.

“We often develop new testing methods for challenging traffic scenarios. Our aim is not only to meet legal requirements or pass rating tests. Instead, we go beyond ratings, using real traffic situations to develop technology that further improves safety.”