New research has revealed that helmet cameras may not be as dangerous as previously feared — however, British Eventing (BE) stands firm in its ban on the devices.

Recent research by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) was commissioned by BBC Safety, seeking to investigate the potential effects that mounting a camera has on the performance of helmets.

The research was aimed at skiing and follows the serious accident in which German former racing driver Michael Schumacher was injured.

TRL reviewed a range of commonly used climbing helmet types (hardshell, hybrid and expanded polystyrene foam) with cameras mounted at the front, side and top of these helmets using either sticky mounts or straps.

Energy transference to the “head” was measured during standardised impact tests.

Further injury thresholds, defining a less than 50% chance of either a fracture to the skull or loss of consciousness for less than one hour, were also identified from scientific literature to provide further comparison.

Results indicated that risks of head injury were not increased beyond current legislative performance requirements or published injury thresholds with all helmet-camera mountings investigated, using all three helmet types and at all three positions.

Encouraging findings

“Concerns have been raised about the safety implications of fixing cameras to helmets, so it’s encouraging that the configurations tested still meet the required safety standards,” said Richard Cuerden of TRL.

“But while the results are promising, it’s important we don’t assume the result will be the same for all helmet and camera configurations.

“Other variables not tested could result in different injury outcomes, so further research and testing is required before we can confidently say that all helmets, scenarios and designs will achieve the same result.

“More needs to be done by manufacturers and retailers to give consumers increased confidence in what has fast become a trend among those interested in fast-paced, adventure sports.”

Last year BE brought in a blanket ban on the devices due to the lack of information on whether they can worsen an injury in a fall.

The United States Equestrian Federation and Eventing Ireland both followed suit, but have since reversed their decision.

“BE is aware of the report produced by TRL, and, along with another report produced by the University of Alberta in Canada, we are analysing the findings carefully,” a BE spokesman told H&H.

“It should be noted that the testing carried out in both reports does not specifically test riding helmets and that BE continues to look at new research and technology as it becomes available.”

Broadening appeal

When the cameras were initially banned, eventers protested that the footage would entice more fans and sponsors.

Racing currently uses JockeyCam to show the thrill of the race. Lizzie Kelly recently wore one when she won the Grade One Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton.

The camera is attached to the helmet with a piece of elastic, similar to a pair of goggles, and weighs 74g. The camera was tested by the British Racing School and helmet makers Charles Owen prior to use.