Of the events that took place at the Mexico City Grand Prix, the most consequential might have happened on Thursday, before any Formula One car drove out on track. Representatives from the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), Formula One, the Asociación Nacional de Automovilistas of Mexico (ANA), the Mexican Red Cross as well as corporate partners met to promote a safety device conceived to radically transform road safety worldwide. The safety device, a motorcycle helmet with a wholesale price of ten U.S. dollars.
Other than being the governing body of international motorsport, the FIA is also a global advocate for improving safety on public roads. According to the organization, there are over 300 million motorcycles, mopeds and scooters on the world’s roads. The United Nations found that as many as 3.4 million fatalities may have been caused by motorcycle crashes between 2008 and 2020. Proper use of a safe helmet could have saved up to 1.4 million lives over the same period.
FIA President Jean Todt challenged the FIA’s Safety Department to design a motorcycle helmet to have a wholesale price of ten dollars, meet the UN’s helmet regulation (UN Reg. 22.05) and be comfortable to wear in tropical climates. Eighty percent of the aforementioned over 300 million vehicles are located in Asia so it was desired a helmet that would be most useful in the most densely populated portions of that continent. The FIA was able to produce a successful helmet design.
The rollout of the helmet itself has been hampered by the coronavirus pandemic. The FIA continues to create partnerships with manufacturers to produce the FIA design or similar designs of their own. The FIA is also organizing events to regionally and nationally launch the helmet, like it did recently in Mexico City. The Mexico City event involved F1 drivers presenting helmets in colors similar to their own racing helmet designs or team colors. The Schumacher family’s Keep Fighting Foundation also donated 2,600 helmets to Mexico that will be distributed by the ANA.
The success of the helmet will largely be determined by if helmet manufacturers actually start mass producing the helmet worldwide and if the helmet is widely adopted by the road-going public across the developing and newly-developed world.