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The Confederation of Australian Motor Sport (CAMS) is to make use of Frontal Head Restraints (FHR) mandatory from mid-2014.

FHR’s are a safety device that reduces the likelihood of head and/ or neck injuries and are already compulsory in many motor sport events worldwide.

Formula 1® mandated FHR devices called HANS (Head and Neck Support) in 2003 after extensive testing and these products are also mandatory in Australia’s premier touring car category, the V8 Supercars Championship.

CAMS Chief Executive Eugene Arocca says it’s time the devices were made mandatory in all levels of Australian motor sport and expects this decision will be embraced nationwide.

“We have a responsibility to continually review safety in motor sport and we felt it was an opportune time to review mandatory use of Frontal Head Restraints.

“Safety is paramount in this sport. Ultimately the industry will embrace Frontal Head restraints at all levels and we are very comfortable making this decision as part of our responsibility in regulating motor sport in this country.

“The facts and the information supporting FHRs is overwhelming. Use a Frontal Head Restraint and your chances of surviving a significant motor sport incident are far better than without.” said Arocca.

The purpose of FHR devices is to stop the head from whipping forward in a crash, without restricting the movement of the neck, as an FHR device maintains the relative position of the head to the body.
CAMS has resolved to introduce regulations which mandate the use of forward head restraints in accordance with FIA standards as follows:

From 1 July, 2014 all international and national circuit races, road events and off road events, except where specifically exempted due to the type of vehicle;

From 1 January, 2015, all state circuit races, road events and off road events, except where specifically exempted due to the type of vehicle.

CAMS will conduct an assessment to monitor the introduction and to determine its application to other disciplines and lower level competition.

In the meantime, competitors are reminded that the use of these restraints remains highly recommended.

Arocca said: “Personally, if I was competing at an event I would use a Frontal Head Restraint irrespective of the level of motor sport. Most importantly, this will be phased in together with an ongoing monitoring process, which we believe is the best way forward.

"In real terms, when you consider that the cost of a basic FHR is equivalent to two good quality tyres, it would be difficult to logically argue against the mandating of FHR, particularly given the FHR will outlast the tyres by a number of years."

Former V8 Supercar driver and Australian motor sport legend Mark Skaife believes this is a significant moment in the history of Australian motor sport and all drivers at all levels will be better off.

“I think to make it compulsory now is absolutely required.” said Skaife

He added: “The shift in policy is like when seat belts were introduced. At the end of the day we would not go racing without seat belts. Frontal Head Restraints are the same.

“They take a little bit of getting used to in making sure the seat belts conform to body shape, but for me it’s a one hundred percent guaranteed thing that you should wear for any sort of motor sport.”

“For me, to make it compulsory now, is a great thing.

Elite drivers consider FHR devices as essential as their helmet. V8 Supercar Driver and CAMS Driver Development Manager Karl Reindler recalls one occasion in particular where a Frontal Head Restraint proved invaluable.

“With the accident I had in Perth in 2011, it saved my life. I walked away from that accident with some burns but had I not had my Frontal Head Restraint on, who knows what the result could have been?

“I think it’s a great move by CAMS and the devices are a lot more affordable now than what they used to be.

“You can’t put a value on your own life.” said Reindler.
 
NOTE: Further regulation amendments incorporating the mandatory use of Frontal Head Restraints will be issued from CAMS soon.

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