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HOPE (Helmet OPtimization in Europe): Towards safer bicycling through optimization of bicycle helmets and usage

Cycling is an excellent sustainable alternative to driving for many journeys. Unfortunately, cyclists have fewer safety options than car-users, with a helmet being one such safety device. However, there are strong indications that law-mediated increases of helmet usage for cyclists cause confounding factors which temper the positive effect of these helmets on head and brain injury. Furthermore, current helmet design is suboptimal. Since several fields are important to bicycle helmet optimization, a combined effort involving all of these is necessary so that a given parameter is not optimized at the cost of another. Finally, the attitudes of cyclists towards helmets must be considered if helmet usage is to be changed. This multidisciplinary approach respects the complex nature of the issue, is unique in Europe, and will provide more complete information to legislators, manufacturers, end-users, and scientists, ultimately leading to increased safety for cyclists.

Main objectives

The main objectives of HOPE are to increase scientific knowledge about bicycle helmets in regards to traffic safety and to disseminate this knowledge to stakeholders, including cyclists, legislators, manufacturers, and the scientific community.
An additional aim is to stimulate international collaboration. This project focuses on head protection in the event of an accident and also in preventing accidents from occurring. The participation of experts in the primary scientific fields dealing with helmet function and bicycle traffic safety, on a European scale, is the basis of the present unique, integral approach.

Secondary objectives
1) To produce state-of-the-art reviews on the following topics:
conditions and injuries of traffic accidents involving cyclists, traffic psychology aspects concerning helmet use, impact protection of cycle helmets, and comfort issues of bicycle helmets; all from the perspective of the cyclist and of other road users.
To acquire and disseminate new in-situ and ex-situ knowledge, and to identify new areas for research. In addition, public criticism of the safety of present designs and standards will be addressed.
2) To establish a pan-European database of parameters related to bicycle helmet use, as well as parameters associated with bicycle accidents.
3) To develop knowledge in helmet-related safety particularly in helmet function and design as well as behaviour in order to enhance cyclists' conspicuity.
4) To stimulate new research collaborations, preferably at the European level.
5) To disseminate information to the public: at least two workshops for bicycle helmet manufacturers and end-users in which the knowledge transfer in both directions will be coordinated. Scientific publications and conference contributions will achieve an interaction with the scientific community.
6) To disseminate information to industry, which can be integrated into the manufacturing process in order to maximize benefit to society.

The project is organised in four Working Groups

Working Group 1: In-depth accident observations and injury statistics
Development of a database.
Development of acceptance criteria of bicycle helmet use.
Dissemination of results.

Working Group 2: Traffic psychology
Conspicuity criteria of helmets.
Confounding factors associated with helmet usage.
Dissemination of results.

Working Group 3: Impact engineering
Reconstruction of bike accidents
New helmet standard
Improvement of helmet protection capability
Dissemination of Results

Working Group 4: Ergonomics of thermal aspects
Development of guidelines for thermally-optimized helmet designs.
Dissemination of results

The project is financed by the EU COST Office for the period 2012-2015; fifteen countries are involved.

REHABIL-AID: REducing the HArm and the Burden of Injuries and human Loss caused by road traffic crashes and Addressing Injury Demands through effective interventions

Main objectives
The project aims to assess the socioeconomic burden of road traffic injuries and identify
factors that affect the rehabilitation process in three European countries. It further aims to identify
policy gaps, set future priorities and introduce effective interventions based on evidence-based
approaches in order to reduce the long term burden of RTCs on injured people.

Secondary objectives

a) to assess the extent of the problem and its manifestations.
b) to identify the psychosocial and socioeconomic needs of the injured people.
c) to define the gaps in the care of the injured individuals.
d) to introduce alternative support systems with emphasis to informal care for injured people.
e) to identify the key priorities for intervention and introduce tools to minimize the burden of
f) to provide a baseline to monitor progress in the care of injured people in the future.
g) to introduce an integrated response to the needs of injured patients by addressing their needs
through multidisciplinary actions and multisectoral collaboration.
g) to stimulate road safety strategies and plans of action at national level.
h) to support the development of national capacity and international cooperation.

To achieve the study objectives, the following actions have been anticipated within the project:
a) Collection of data on injury-related patterns
b) Collection of long term data on the burden of injuries, the direct and indirect socioeconomic
c) Design of interventions tailored to the needs of the injured people in order to facilitate the
rehabilitation process (e.g. policy recommendations on the care of the severely injured, map of
rehabilitation services, map of the care pathway following RTCs, etc.).
d) Dissemination of intervention material to a large network of actors related to this field.
e) Delivery of policy recommendations, injury indicators and good practices to policy makers and
relevant stakeholders and user groups at a European level

The project is implemented in autonomous work packages (WPs)

WP1 Coordination and project management
Quality assurance
Common understanding of the project’s key missions
Development of an electronic platform/website to facilitate
Disseminate the project results

WP2 Development of theoretical and methodological framework
Research strategy and develop research tools
a) Lifestyle and quality of life, b) Emotional/psychological burden, c) Economic costs, d)
Utilization and satisfaction from health and social services and, e) Informal care/Social network

WP3 Pilot phase
Train the hospital staff and the interviewers
Identify potential difficulties

WP4 Main study
collect data
Data entry
Data analysis

WP5 Evaluation and exploitation of the project’s results
Dissemination the results to large audiences
Evaluation workshop
Exploitation of the project’s results.
Future collaborative proposals

The project is financed by the EU Directorate General for Mobility and Transport for the period July 2012-June 2015; three countries are involved: Greece (coordinator), Germany and Italy.