Safety in the name of fashion

The Hovding airbag collar has been designed to provide the safety aspects of a helmet without destroying your hair style.
The Hovding airbag collar has been designed to provide the safety aspects of a helmet without destroying your hair style.

A SWEDISH design house has created a potentially life-saving fashion accessory for cyclists.

The Hovding airbag collar has been designed to provide a safe alternative to the bicycle helmet without the detrimental effect that stack-hats tend to have on one's hairdo.

Designed to wrap around the cyclist's neck like a scarf, the Hovding (which means Chieftain in Swedish) will deploy an airbag in the form of a hood if its in-built sensors detect a potential head impact.

The sensors are able to detect an over-the-handlebars accident, a rear impact, and even if the rider simply falls off the bike sideways.

The designers of the Chieftain, Terese Alstin and Anna Haupt, predict that the collar airbag will be a big hit when it goes on sale in Europe next year, priced at about $500.

The pair teamed up at Sweden's University of Lund, completing a thesis on helmet use which culminated in Sweden introducing a law for all children under the age of 15 to wear helmets.

The company's website states that the Cheiftain has been designed specifically for commuters, and that more extreme cyclists should still wear regular helmets.

The Cheiftain has been designed for those cyclists who'd prefer not to wear a helmet - and there's a strong push locally for helmet laws to be overturned.

In 1991, Australia became the first country in the world to introduce mandatory helmet use for cyclists, and as the number of cyclists on the road increases, there have been calls for the laws to be quashed.

Sydney University's School of Public Health associate professor Chris Rissely recently told the ABC that there has been no decrease in head injuries since the helmet laws were introduced, claiming the number of cycling related injuries has remained steady since the 1980s.

"What it does is it puts people off cycling and makes people think that cycling's a dangerous activity, even though it's a really healthy thing to do and it increases people's physical activity," he told the ABC.

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