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Snell SA2020 Open Face Auto Racing Helmets Since its founding in 1957, the Snell Memorial Foundation has independently tested manufacturer's helmets. Its first safety standards for protective headgear were issued for auto racing in 1959. Subsequently, other specific helmet standards for motorcycling, equestrian sports, bicycling, rollerblading and skateboarding, snowboarding and skiing, and karting have been issued. These standards address performance, not specific materials or design. Periodically, utilizing specially designed test equipment, the Foundation upgrades its specifications on performance characteristics of helmets to keep pace with advances in materials, helmet technology and design. Snell Foundation Finalizes SA2020 Standard The Snell Memorial Foundation, Inc. has finalized its SA2020 Standard for Protective Headgear which applies to auto racing helmets. However, although there are several changes in test requirements and procedures from the current SA2015 Standard, Snell certified auto racing helmets are expected to stay very much the same as they are now.
- Snell SA2020 helmets must be ready for the addition of frontal restraint tether hardware such as used in HANS® Device and other systems.
- Snell SA2020 includes provisions for “Low Velocity” impact testing.
- Snell SA2020 includes “Low Lateral” impacts in case of strikes against side window frames and similar structures.
- The timeline for SA2020 is as follows:</b
- Snell SA2020 Certified helmets will not be available for sale until October 1, 2020, when the standard takes effect.
- Our advice to Safety Inspectors and Racing Authorities is that they continue to accept helmets in good condition and certified either to the current or immediately previous Snell standard. At this time, Snell SA2020 is the current Snell standard and SA2015 is the immediately previous. Snell urges everyone to replace their Snell certified helmets routinely no later than five years after the helmet is first worn. However, even by this conservative advice, many current Snell SA2015 certified helmets still have years of service in them. Unless a helmet has been damaged, or has five or more years of use, or is no longer accepted by safety inspectors or track authorities, there may be no need to replace it. Please direct any questions, comments and requests for copies of the Snell SA2020 Standard to [email protected] or call 916-331-5073. Understanding Snell Ratings A Snell SA rating is the most widely accepted standard for racing helmet safety in the world. The Snell standard is updated once every five years, generally improving helmet protection each time. Effective October 1, 2020, helmet manufacturers will be allowed to sell Snell 2020 rated helmets, meeting Snell’s latest and most stringent safety standards. The helmets will be clearly marked with the Snell 2020 safety label. An overview of the improvements to the Snell SA2020 standard versus the Snell SA2015 standard is explained here.
- Snell SA2020 helmets must be equipped with FIA 8858-2015 compliant M6 terminal mounts for frontal head restraints. Head and neck restraints such as the HANS® Device have been credited as being the number one lifesaving advance in personal racing safety equipment of the last 20 years.
- Snell SA2020 includes provisions for “Low Velocity” impact testing. For the racer, this test ensures performance in low velocity crashes.
- A single helmet will be tested in five separate sites on a flat anvil on or above the helmet’s test line. No impact may exceed 200G and the average of the five peaks must not exceed 180G.
- Snell SA2020 includes “Low Lateral” impacts at the intersection of the head form reference and transverse planes. This is the key area around the ear and temple.
- The peak G criteria for helmets tested on head forms of less than 60 cm circumference (ISO A-J) has been raised to 300 G and the velocity of the first impact has been increased to 8.5 m/sec. Second impact velocities have been reduced.
- The peak G criterion for the ISO M head form remains at 264 G but the first impact velocity has been increased to 8.0 m/sec. The second impact velocity has been reduced.
- Snell SA2020 certification will require two more helmet samples than Snell SA2010 demanded. One of these is for the FHR testing and the other for the additional impact tests.
- Additional helmet standards exist for karting helmets and children’s helmets. The SFI Foundation also has a helmet standard that most US sanctioning bodies accept. Generally racers wear what is required by their sanctioning bodies. Each sanctioning body establishes which standards it will accept and how old the rating can be. Be sure to keep up with your sanctioning body and local track requirements.