The Effect of Thickness and Continuity of Motorcycle Helmet Shells on Performance

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Repository Usage Stats



Road accidents are the leading cause of death within the 15-29 years age range worldwide and the risk of death for motorcyclists is 20 times that of car occupants. As such, 31% of over 10,250 annual road traffic deaths in Uganda are due to either 2 or 3-wheeler motorists’ accidents. Another study in Uganda revealed that 71% of its motorcycle crash victims sustained a head injury while more research shows that helmets can reduce risk of death by 37% and risk of head injury by 69% in the event of a crash. Unfortunately, helmet-use compliance is 30.8% and 1% compliance for riders and passengers respectively in Uganda. Market research by Design without Borders and the Uganda Helmet Vaccine Initiative, attributes this low helmet-use to discomfort, poor helmet ventilation and the prohibitive price of the helmets. A large part of the prohibitive helmet price is due to onerous performance requirements which drive up the development and manufacturing costs. One such requirement is ensuring the helmet's optimal performance in temperatures as low as -20o Celsius which are atypical in tropical climate regions. Another is that the helmet withstands multiple identical impacts at exactly the same location which is extremely rare in a crash. This Masters research is concerned with investigating the effect of continuity and thickness of motorcycle helmet shells on performance. Helmeted head impacts were simulated at three impact points using two different impact surfaces while varying shell thicknesses and continuity using LS DYNA, a Finite Element Analysis software. Increase in shell thickness reduced motorcycle helmet performance while splitting the shell in halves did not significantly affect motorcycle helmet performance. Insights from this research will inform and guide the engineering design of affordable market approved, better ventilated motorcycle helmets under 10 USD that will be suited for the Tropics.





Rubango, Kenneth N/A (2018). The Effect of Thickness and Continuity of Motorcycle Helmet Shells on Performance. Master's thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from


Dukes student scholarship is made available to the public using a Creative Commons Attribution / Non-commercial / No derivative (CC-BY-NC-ND) license.