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Camera Mounts on Helmets: Potential Safety Concern?

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10/16/2014 3:54 PM
Edited Date/Time: 10/16/2014 4:16 PM

Michael Schumacher, arguably the best known F1 race car driver in history, suffered a brain injury when he slammed his head on a rock while skiing in the French Alps last December. He emerged from a medically induced coma in June and is receiving treatment now.

Earlier this week a French journalist claimed the injury was due to the GoPro camera attached to his helmet, the internet took off with the claim, and GoPro's stock took a big hit as a result.

Of course GoPro says the injury wasn't the result of their mount and may pursue legal action against the journalist. Schumacher's helmet shattered but the camera was undamaged in the accident.

To my knowledge no research has been published showing the potential for increased injury severity due to these types of mounts, but the modification of a helmet will no doubt cause unpredictable results. Clearly rotational injuries are an area of concern, which is why MIPS and related designs are becoming more commonplace. Some companies choose to integrate camera mounts that break away, like the Bell Full 9 (Slides 15-19). The stick on mounts that many camera companies supply don't break away easily though. Is this cause for alarm? What do you think? Whether or not the claim is valid, will it change the way you wear your camera?


10/16/2014 4:03 PM

w/o any scientific data, i always wondered about the potential for injury/damage because of a helmet cam. either the mount/camera area pushes through the shell/foam of the helmet or the camera causes the head/neck to bend or tweak in a way it may not have without the camera.

this is extremely interesting and worth discussion.


10/16/2014 4:38 PM

This info is not overly new. I heard this from a guy in Thredbo Australia in August this year whilst chatting on a chairlift. He said the exact same thing about the mount piercing MS's helmet. I guess no one will know until, when or if, MS can tell us himself.


10/16/2014 5:53 PM

i ride dirt bike enduro and in that there are low hanging branches, one race i snagged my gopro on a branch from above, my neck was a little sore and i learned my lesson but i believe that as long as there is thought put into placement about conditions then a helmet cam show have no more health effect then just the dead weight of the camera.


10/16/2014 7:12 PM

I've eaten shit in snow and on dirt with a helmet cam. Sometimes I've sheared the f@cker off, sometimes not.

We still don't know if Leatt braces work. I ate shit on Lower A-Line hard one year while wearing it (big concussion, ulna popped out, radius bust). To this day I still wonder if I didn't have it I'd have been able to tuck my chin and roll out of it.

I think think there are just too many variables to say with certainty either way.

For the record I still wear my brace but I always question whether I should or not. I only stop wearing my gopro if the conditions are complete crap.


10/16/2014 7:49 PM

Rock a Full-9.


10/16/2014 8:31 PM
Edited Date/Time: 10/16/2014 9:24 PM

Apparently there's more to this than simply a French journalist. There is/was a full blown investigation surrounding the camera:

Investigators believe that they may have found a reason for the seriousness of the crash. They think that his helmet camera could have actually worsened the blown, and caused the helmet to shatter into pieces.

Experts from ENSA, the world-renowned ski and climbing academy in the French ski resort of Chamonix, have conducted tests to determine whether the presence of a solid object between a helmet colliding with a rock would weaken the structure.

The helmet smashed – but the camera he had attached to it, in order to record him and his son skiing, was undamaged. The footage, audio and visual, has provided police with crucial information about the crash.

"The helmet completely broke. It was in at least two parts. ENSA analysed the piece of the helmet to check the material, and all was OK," said a source close to the investigation.

"But why did it explode on impact? Here the camera comes into question. The laboratory has been testing to see if the camera weakened the structure."

More here:

I can find no formal report stating the results from the laboratory.


10/16/2014 9:14 PM

Aren't helmets meant to be one impact devices? Exploding on impact or not could just come down to speed of impact or even temperature (granted, in extreme temperature).

Also all this talk about the camera being undamaged is pretty amazing for GoPro, but I'm sure the rock was undamaged as well. Obviously, I understand what I just said there. Is it possible that he just hit the rock really F***ing hard and that's what smashed the helmet? I just have a hard time believing that the plastic mount caused more damage the a rock


10/16/2014 9:21 PM

Having crashed on my motorcycle at a local track and impacting head first after high siding on a left hand high speed turn. the Gopro mounted on top of my hemet was broken off. the helmet was scrapped to all hell and the mount and camera gone. I had a bad concusion which more than likely with what had happened would of occurred any way. I was wearing a Shoei helmet which was DOT and Snell certified. While this article points out the camera multiple times it makes no mention of what helmet he was wearing, only that a piece of the helmet was analyzed and checked fine so to say. While the camera may have played a small role in the big picture he did hit a rock. I have seen Motorcross helmets shatter from hitting rocks with no camera attached Look up helmets damaged in crash on google and you get a whole bunch of cracked, scraped , damaged and so on. none with cameras on them. Hope he recovers well.


10/16/2014 9:22 PM

GoPro stock price trading at 72.69 which is down from a couple of days ago.

I always thought that it detaches upon impact? Or maybe they should make the attachments velcro style???


10/16/2014 9:23 PM

Leornard Zinn reached out to some of the big brands earlier this year. You can read the article here. The responses are below:

From Contour:

All of our mounts for helmets are secured with double-sided adhesive tape. The mounts themselves are of plastic construction. Whilst both are strong enough to hold the cameras in place, during an impact directly on the mount, the mount will usually break. The adhesive has been selected as it is the least reactive when applied to various hard surfaces.

Helmet manufacturers, understandably, will always turn down a claim if an unofficial accessory is fitted and causes injury to the wearer. This even includes visors that are not from the manufacturer. It’s a “belts and braces” way to avoid litigation.

I hope that helps you a bit. As for specifics as to the testing carried out, I am unable to release these publically, but I can assure you that they are designed with safety in mind.

From GoPro:

I am glad that you reached out to us regarding your helmet. We do not have any testing resources available regarding the effects of mounting a camera on your helmet and the impact on the helmet’s safety as a result.

Our mounts are not designed to withstand significant impact, in the event that you do significantly impact your helmet the mounting parts and adhesive would likely not stay or adversely affect the performance of the helmet.

We have not done widespread testing of different helmet brands, in most instances a camera will more likely dismount than damage the helmet. Our policy is that it is up to the customer to ensure their camera is mounted safely and securely, we can not accept any liability regarding the way that a mounted camera my impact the user’s safety in the event of a crash.

From Giro:

We studied this issue thoroughly, including significant testing at our in-house DOME test lab with both Go-Pro and Contour units that are used on cycling, snow, and powersports helmets. We’ve also helped to initiate an ASTM standards subcommittee to collaborate with others scientists and our competitors on this topic. Our mounts cause no significant additional loads for the neck nor brain rotation due to well designed breakaway features.

Due to the variety of alternative methods that someone might use to attach a camera or light to their helmet, and the fact that every crash is a unique event, we cannot offer any claim for mounts that we did not design for this purpose.
— Eric Richter, Sr. Brand Manager, Giro Cycling

From Specialized:

We have discussed this. We believe that a good GoPro mount should “break away” in an impact. We think this is the main thing. There is still risk that the camera could still cause injury, but not worse than rocks, eyewear, etc. There is always risk of injury in an accident, regardless. So, it’s always best to keep the rubber side down.

From our experience, so far (I say so far, because it is still a relatively new area for helmet use/accident data), most of the adhesive mounts do break away fine. It seems a bigger problem that cameras get knocked off and lost. So, tethering the camera may also be wise, while still providing the breakaway feature. We think it’s a bad idea to have a camera “hard mounted or bolted” to the helmet, as this may increase risk by adding leverage to rotation in an impact. Standards often state that “protrusions over 5mm in height, off of the surface of the helmet, must break away in an impact”.
— Michael Grim, Helmet Manager, Specialized

From Troy Lee:

We have done some testing with our helmets in proto form, with integrated helmet mounts and we are not convinced to move forward with it. — Craig “Stikman” Glaspell, Bicycle Global Marketing Manager/Bicycle Athlete Manager, Troy Lee Designs


10/16/2014 9:51 PM

If you're wearing a helmet cam, it's usually because you're about to do something sketch. For better or worse, we've all done it. Sometimes you try to hop a stump, slip a pedal, and impale yourself on a piece of wood... And sometimes you have boring helmet-cam footage of yourself hopping over a stump. Nothing but the best for Schumacher...


10/18/2014 8:19 AM

lucashass wrote:

Aren't helmets meant to be one impact devices? Exploding on impact or not could just come down to speed of impact or even ...more

There are some that are rated for multiple impacts but not all helmets are designed to shatter in order to disperse the impact. It can happen but witnesses to his crash state that he wasn't traveling at a high rate of speed. The helmet shattering from such a low speed impact was quite shocking since its rare for helmets to shatter like that unless its a very bad impact. Seeing how the tests that were done regarding a mounted Go Pro, its starting to sound like that unfortunately, if an impact happens in just the right way, its possible that the Go Pro is "pin pointing" the force into one small area on the helmet resulting in a greater amount of force per square inches that causes the helmet to fail dramatically.

It would be like comparing someone stepping on your foot with boots vs. someone stepping on your foot with the same force but with high heels. I can see how this is possible but I really hope this isn't the case. The mounts do break away but even plastic can hold up to impacts if the impact comes at a specific angle (which in this incident it sounded like it was). It'll be interesting to see what comes of this.


10/19/2014 7:06 PM

I think any helmets manufacturer would disclaimer their product if it's attached to anything, not just that, they even do the same if we paint the helmet. I guess for helmet we better leave it just the way it is from the moment we leave the shop or open the package.


10/28/2014 11:13 PM
Edited Date/Time: 10/28/2014 11:14 PM

We need to take more care while we are in cycling on roads, driving on motorcycle. Most of then accidents are happen for the persons who are not used the hemlets at the time of driving.
safety helmets