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Old 09-06-2010, 09:48 AM   #39
Joined: Jun 2008
Location: NorCal
Oddometer: 97
Originally Posted by Waco Kid
If these are effective, why aren't racers using them?
Just because someone who could benefit from something isn't using it doesn't mean that the benefit isn't there. Lot's of reasons why something may not have yet caught on. Now to be a bit less smug, I actually think there are some fair questions here.

First, there's no standard (as far as I know) to measure effectiveness of these or other airbag vests. There also aren't that many out there to compare to one another. Some obvious questions:

  1. How much is force transfer reduced compared to regular armor?
  2. How often would you land on the bag, or would it brace something else?
  3. How quickly does the bag deploy when the tether is triggered?
  4. Does the assembly ever interfere in a way that might itself cause injury?

First, we want to know if it has a benefit beyond the armor we already wear. Second -- like the many current discussions around back protectors -- we want to know if it's going to come into play in a typical survivable accident. Of particular interest is the secondary bracing, especially for the neck. Also very important is how quickly the thing inflates vs. how quickly you end up impacting with one of those troublesomely solid objects. And last there is the keybox and CO2 cylinder on the lower right chest, which certainly contains enough material that it could hurt, so we want to know roughly how likely it is that it will hurt in various crash situations, with some data beyond "my dad's bartender's cousin once got his head chopped off by a seat belt so they're unsafe".

I own an MLV lightweight, having wondered all those things and decided that I think it's very likely to be a considerable net positive piece of protection in a survivable crash. Perhaps extending the survivability envelope some, too. But a bit of objective testing would be good, since all protection equipment represents a range of protection / comfort / cost tradeoffs.
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