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Riding a motorcycle as a hobby especially if you are a thrill seeker can be fun and exciting to do. Of course, because of how you need to ensure that you are safe, you need to wear a helmet during your rides. Still, there are some cases where you might want to mount an action camera onto your helmet because you want to take videos of your rides. But is it actually safe to mount an action camera on your motorcycle helmet?
It is safe to mount an action camera on the helmet while you are riding a motorcycle as it has been found that it has no significant impact on the safety of the rider during a possible crash. Meanwhile, as to the legality of action cameras on helmets, there are no definite laws that cover it.
Even though action cameras have been the subject of debate for different people because of the possible safety and legal risks that come with them, what you should know is that there is nothing to worry about them because of how action cameras come with no significant impact to your safety as a rider. That said, it is best for you to know more about action cameras and why they are safe for you if you are riding a motorcycle.
What are action cameras used for?
In the modern world, we live in today, there are countless types of cameras that can be used for a lot of different purposes. While in the past, we only had the usual larger cameras that were used by photographers until smaller cameras were eventually developed. Today, we can find cameras in almost any device such as smartphones. There are even cameras that were made for specific purposes especially when it comes to hobbies.
That said, one such camera that can be used for hobbies is the action camera. This is the type of camera that you often see thrill-seekers and adventurers use whenever they go out for trips and adventures. But what exactly is an action camera and what does it do?
In the most basic sense, an action camera is simply a small handheld digital camera that can be mounted. However, the way that it can be mounted and used for a lot of different purposes is what allows it to stand out among the many different cameras that we have in today’s market.
Action cameras are made to be handheld and compact enough so that you can easily use them for any sort of trip or adventure without worrying about how heavy or how difficult it is to use the camera with one hand. This is why they are so popular in sporting events and in extreme hobbies such as motorcycling or surfing, among others.
But the fact that an action camera can be mounted on a lot of different equipment such as bikes and helmets is what has made them so popular for thrill-seekers and adventure lovers. If you are a motorcyclist or a biker, you will love using an action camera that could take videos and photos of your rides. Even surfers have been able to mount their action cameras on their boards. Also, action cameras are made to be rugged enough to handle the rough conditions that people who use them often go through.
Different cameras have different purposes. While we know that DLSR or mirrorless cameras are best used by professional photographers and that point and shoot or phone cameras are good enough for amateur photographers, the action camera is built for different people as well. This is why those who love sports such as diving, cycling, and plenty of different outdoor activities use action cameras. Even vloggers who enjoy riding and other extreme activities are using action cameras as well.
As long as you want a camera that is sturdy and capable enough to handle the usual things that you go through if you are a thrill-seeker or an avid fan of adventures and outdoor activities, you will be able to find good use for an action camera. Today, we often see action cameras being used by motorcyclists or bikers who mount these action cameras on their helmets.
Can you wear a camera on your helmet?
Motorcycle riding has always been a longtime hobby for a lot of people for as long as the motorcycle has existed. However, there are different types of motorcycle riders who ride their motorcycles for various purposes. Others live the thrill of the long ride while there are those who prefer to do tricks or to enjoy the speeds at which they go while they are on their motorcycles.
But because we now live in the age of social media where we would want the entire world to see and appreciate the things that we love doing, you might want people to see how you love riding your motorcycle and how you simply enjoy the thrill of your rides. However, using the conventional way of taking videos or photos with your smartphone can be difficult if you are riding a motorcycle. And that is where you might want to use an action camera.
It is needless to say that wearing a helmet is one of the most important parts of riding a motorcycle. Almost all of the states in America require that you wear a helmet if you are riding a motorcycle. Of course, the reason why you need to wear one is for your safety. After all, nothing other than a good and capable helmet will cushion your head from an accident.
So, going back to our point about action cameras, one of the ways that motorcyclists have been able to take videos and photos of their rides without compromising the use of their hands is by using action cameras. While it is no secret that you can mount action cameras on bikes or motorcycles, can you also do the same with your helmet?
Physically speaking, yes, action cameras are made and developed to be mountable on the helmets that people wear when they are riding their motorcycles or bikes. This is one of the major selling points of an action camera as the rider can basically mount it on his helmet and allow the action camera to cover and film whatever he is doing while he is on his motorcycle. It has become a convenient way for riders out there to film what they love doing and for people to also see their rides especially when the rider posts the videos all over social media.
Are helmet cameras dangerous?
That said, while we did say that you can wear or mount an action camera on your helmet while you are riding your motorcycle, there are some people who actually believe that there are safety risks involved when you wear them on your helmet regardless of what you are doing and what activity you’re involved in.
A good example of that is back in December of 2013 when all-time great F1 racer Michael Schumacher went skiing. At that time, he was actually wearing a helmet that had an action camera mounted onto it. While skiing in an unsecured location in the French Alps, Schumacher ran into an accident. The racing legend and speed demon slammed his head on a rock when he crashed while skiing.
While Michael Schumacher was indeed wearing a helmet at that time, he still suffered brain damage as a result of that accident. Doctors said that he could have died on impact had it not been for his helmet, which obviously did its job at protecting his head. But they also pointed out that the damage on his head was compounded by the action camera that he was wearing.
Since the accident that happened to arguably the greatest F1 racer in history, action cameras began receiving negative criticisms. This even led to the point where some sports decided to ban the use of action cameras for competition because of how they thought it was unsafe for an athlete to wear these cameras following the incident that happened to Michael Schumacher.
On the part of the company that manufactured the one that Schumacher wore at the time of his accident, they said that the customers should wear these cameras at their own risk and that they never said that wearing action cameras on helmets is safe. Of course, they also said that, in the event of a possible accident, the mounts on the action camera would break away at impact and would not affect how well a helmet protects the wearer. Still, they did not show any scientific evidence that could have helped in supporting their claim.
That said, because of how there was no clear evidence regarding the safety risks that were involved in wearing action cameras on helmets, BBC actually conducted a study that helped shed light on this problem so that those who use action cameras could finally have a solid answer as to whether or not it is safe to wear these gadgets on helmets. After all, one incident shouldn’t be enough to actually support the claims that action cameras are unsafe. It was important for an actual study to show in a conclusive manner whether or not action cameras are safe.
So, what happened was that the BBC study used a wide range of different helmets that are commonly used for a lot of different purposes such as for climbing. These helmets also varied in their material as some were foam-based, hard-shell, or hybrid. Meanwhile, action cameras were mounted onto these helmets in different angles to truly test how safe they are regardless of the spot on the helmet where they are mounted
The testing protocol that BBC used involved the same kind that was used to test the safety of motorcycle helmets. They also used certain standards that would allow them to measure the impact to the head of the wear and the possibility of incurring an injury while wearing these helmets with action cameras mounted on them.
Of course, BBC had an initial hypothesis wherein they thought that the placement of the action camera or any other solid object on the helmet would provide a single point of impact on the helmet. To understand that, you have to look at how helmets are supposed to spread the impact throughout the entire helmet so that there won’t be one single point of impact where the damage will be focused on.
Allowing the impact to spread throughout the helmet will dissipate the damage and will lessen the possible risks of suffering from an injury as a result of the impact.
Also, another initial hypothesis that BBC had was that the action camera would increase the rotational forces on the head if the impact happened on surfaces that were inclined. The reason this would happen is due to how the mounted action camera could probably add more weight that could a bit more spin to the head upon impact.
Overall, they were expecting that the impact forces to the head could lead to a possible failure in the injury thresholds in the standards that they were using to test the safety of the helmets with the action cameras mounted on them.
But what was surprising was that neither of those hypotheses came true because, in all of the tests that BBC conducted with different types of helmets and mounting types and positions, the presence of the camera on the helmet did not reach the failure or injury threshold in the standards that they were using to test the safety of action cameras. And the amazing part was that it was not due to how the mounted camera broke off on impact because only 40% of the tests resulted in the camera breaking off on impact.
The amazing part was that the camera mount was actually helping in the entire experiment. It turned out that, when the helmets with the cameras were struck, the camera mount would deform and actually absorb some of the impacts that would have been absorbed by the helmet. In that sense, the camera mount was actually acting as another layer of protection in most of the tests that BBC conducted.
Still, that did not conclude that mounting an action camera on a helmet was completely positive. The truth was that the presence of the action camera mounted on a helmet still had a slight increase in the energy or force transferred to the head upon impact especially when the impact was applied on an angle, which is most likely the case in accidents involving motorcycles. The effect is similar to how a climber, while falling, catches on a rock and causes the head to jerk back a little due to how the impact on the camera pushed the head from its original path. Such findings were common in all of the tests conducted regardless of the type of material used on the helmet.
However, BBC did not immediately conclude that mounting action cameras on helmets can be safe because the studies were performed under careful laboratory conditions, which won’t always have the same kind of conditions as the ones you will see in an actual accident involving a motorcycle.
As such, while the studies did indeed support that action cameras on helmets can be safe, it still isn’t safe to conclude that they are completely safe because of how there are several variables that you need to consider. And such variables can easily change the conditions to make them either safe or unsafe for the one wearing the helmet. So, what are these factors or variables?
- Helmet fit can have a possible effect on the impact because there are some motorcycle riders who might not wear a helmet size that perfectly fits them. A loose-fitting helmet might have a different result when there is an action camera mounted on it.
- The size and weight of the person may also have an effect on the impact. Naturally, lighter people might not end up having the same kind of impact on their heads in comparison to people who are larger and heavier because of how all of their weight will be shifted over to the point of impact.
- You can also include angle of impact as a possible variable that can change the results of an accident because there are plenty of different angles to consider that it can be very difficult to have a conclusive answer based on only a few angles used in the experiment.
- Of course, the energy transferred at the moment of impact can vary from one accident to another. That’s because some motorcycle riders tend to ride faster than the standards used in the experiment. As a result, an accident from faster riding speeds will naturally transfer more energy to the helmet upon impact.
Still, even though the study was not necessarily conclusive, it still provides enough confidence for people who support that mounting a camera on a helmet is not going to suddenly compromise the safety of the person wearing it.
However, there is one exception that the study was confident enough to claim. Cameras should never be mounted near the front of the helmet while it is looking towards the rider to capture the face of the one on the motorcycle. It’s like someone taking a selfie video while riding a motorcycle. The reason why it is unsafe to do so is due to how the camera could suddenly pivot below the rim of the helmet and hit the person’s face upon impact and cause serious injuries to the person’s face.
Other than that, there are no conclusive safety risks that were found from the study that BBC conducted. This leads us to say that mounting an action camera on the helmet while you are riding a motorcycle is actually safe but not completely safe. Still, if there are any risks involved, they are not too great to the point that the mounted camera can actually suddenly significantly increase the damage suffered by a person upon impact.
Is it legal to use an action camera on a motorcycle helmet?
Now that you know that it isn’t unsafe to use an action camera on a motorcycle helmet because there is no conclusive evidence that could prove that they can cause more damage (just like what happened to Michael Schumacher), does that mean that action cameras are legal to wear on motorcycle helmets?
In that regard, despite the criticisms that action cameras have been getting since the Schumacher accident, there are no specific laws that are against wearing them on your motorcycle helmet. The only laws that can be related to it are actually motorcycle helmet laws, which most states have.
Possibly the only law that is close is the law against adding modifications to the helmet. However, because mounted action cameras are not permanent modifications and are merely mounted on the helmet, they are not covered by that restriction.
How do you mount an action camera on a helmet?
So, if you want to mount an action camera on your helmet in a way that is as safe as possible, here is what you need to do:
- Place the mount on the top center part of your helmet. This is the most common mounting spot for action cameras.
- Look for the vents where the mounting straps should go through.
- Open the clips on the side and make sure that the straps go through the vents and the clips of your helmet.
- Pull the straps to make sure that they are as tight as possible.
- Snag the clips close.
- Make sure that the mount is secure and not moving. That is when it is safe to screw the camera onto the mount.
- Use a safety cable and attach it to the camera so that you won’t end up losing the camera if the mount breaks off on impact.
In conclusion, there are no clear pieces of evidence that would support that mounting an action camera on a helmet is unsafe. That one incident involving a high-profile name may be an isolated case or perhaps there isn’t even any proof that would point out that his action camera contributed to the damage he suffered from the crash.
Nevertheless, in any case, mounting an action camera on your helmet is still safe but not completely safe because there are still some precautions you need to take and that there are still some other factors that you need to consider as well. That said, it may be a case-to-case basis but, as far as studies are concerned, you shouldn’t be too worried about how it would affect the safety of your motorcycle helmet.