|Balls in Your Hair or Baseball Caps: Can a Helmet Fit?
The Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute is reporting of the
possible dangers of certain hair syles and wearing a baseball hat under
A new hairstyle has appeared in 2001 using hard
balls braided into the hair. This style is mostly favored by young afro-american
girls and women. It uses balls that are linked with elastic in pairs.
Some of the "do's" result in quite a pile of hair and balls.
For helmet fitting, this hair style is about as bad as they get. It
The thickness of the balls and hair combined under a helmet raises the
helmet above the head. The result is that the helmet covers less of the
head than it should, leaving the sides unprotected. This is a problem,
since studies have shown that a significant number of impacts are occurring
below the helmet line anyway, and that the helmets should have more coverage,
Raising the helmet on the head destabilizes it by moving the sides, that
normally keep the helmet steady, up and away from the sides of the head.
Combined with the loss of coverage from the helmet perched up higher on
the head, this is a recipe for disaster in a crash, where the helmet must
be stable to remain in position and actually be betweeen the head and
the hard place upon impact!
The balls themselves are a potential impact hazard. They may of course
shatter in a fall if they are brittle enough and hollow. The shards could
cut the scalp. More serious injury might result, however, if the balls
did not shatter but instead concentrated the force of the blow on one
spot. The helmet is designed to spread out that force to prevent the skull
from fracturing. Concentrated impact force from the balls could fracture
the skull, and could transmit more g's to the brain whether or not the
In short, we don't think this hair style is suited for helmet use. Unfortunately,
braiding hair in this style can take hours, and wearers will be reluctant
to take the balls out for a bike ride.
Baseball caps under helmets:
Baseball caps under a helmet pose the same problems as "ball" hairdos.
The thickness of the cap and its sweatband, as well as the bill of the
cap, interfere with the fit of the helmet. In addition, many baseball
caps have a steel ball in the button on the top. That causes all the same
problems as the hairdo balls covered above.