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They say project will enable "direct comparison" of effect of using a helmet against not wearing one...

Could Volvo Cars and POC be about to settle the helmet debate? The Swedish brands have teamed up for what they claim is a "world-first" series of crash tests that will assess the impact on cycle helmets in collisions with cars – and, by comparing the results with those of existing regulations regarding pedestrian head protection, will enable them “to make a direct comparison between wearing a helmet and not wearing a helmet.”

Volvo says that the initiative is a development of its existing strategy of looking to avoid collisions altogether through features such as cyclist and pedestrian detection systems in its vehicles.

The Volvo-POC research project will see a number of specially designed crash tests at the car manufacturer’s safety research facilities in Gothenburg, Sweden.

It also forms part of wider research aimed at obtaining a greater understanding of the types of long-term injuries sustained by cyclists.

The tests will involve POC cycle helmets, mounted on crash test dummy heads, being launched from a testing rig towards different areas of the bonnet of a static Volvo car.

The helmets will be fired at different speeds and angles, says the car manufacturer, and the tests are in line with current regulatory test procedures for pedestrian head protection, which the two companies say will enable them “to make a direct comparison between wearing a helmet and not wearing a helmet.” They add:

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.

The learnings from the research project will help POC make its helmets safer and more protective in the event of a car-bike accident, while the tests will also provide valuable insights and learnings for Volvo Cars into these types of accidents for future development.

Malin Ekholm, Head of the Volvo Cars Safety Centre, said: “This project with POC is a good example of our pioneering spirit in safety.

“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.”

“Much like Volvo Cars, safety is at the very centre of our mission, and drives all our ideas and innovations,” commented Oscar Huss, Head of Product Development at POC.

“By working closely with scientific leaders in the POC Lab, we strive to lead the way in introducing new safety ideas. Certification standards are essential, but they should never limit our willingness to look beyond their parameters to find better and more innovative ways to reduce the consequences of accidents.”

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.