An Integrated Helmet and Neck Support (iHANS) for Racing Car Drivers: A Biomechanical Feasibility Study 2012-22-0013
A new form of head and neck protection for racing car drivers is examined. The concept is one whereby the helmet portion of the system is attached, by way of a quick release clamp, to a collar-like platform which is supported on the driver's shoulders. The collar, which encircles the back and sides of the driver's neck, is held in place by way of the on-board restraint belts. The interior of the helmet portion of the assembly is large enough to provide adequate volitional head motion. The overall objective of the design is to remove the helmet from the wearer's head and thereby to mitigate the deleterious features of helmet wearing such as neck fatigue, poor ventilation and aerodynamic buffeting. Just as importantly, by transferring the weight of the helmet and all attendant reaction forces associated with inertial and impact loads to the shoulder complex (instead of to the neck), reduced head and neck injury probability should be achievable.
This paper describes the concept development and the evolution of various prototype designs. Prototypes have been evaluated on track and sled tested in accordance with contemporary head neck restraint systems practice. Also discussed is a series of direct impact tests. In addition, low mass high velocity ballistic tests have been conducted and are reviewed herein.
It is concluded that this new concept indeed does address most of the drawbacks of the customary helmet and that it generally can reduce the probability of head and neck injury.
James A. Newman, Christopher Withnall, Michael Wonnacott
Newman Biomechanical Engineering Consulting Inc., Biokinetics and Associates Ltd.