HANS was invented in the early 1980s by two biomechanical experts, Jim Downing and Bob Hubard. They recognized that the racers had severe head and neck injuries in the event of a crash.
The HANS device was designed to operate in such a way that, when safety belts hold back the driver's torso, the device restricts the head from swinging forward, significantly reducing neck loads during the front impact and basal skull fracture injuries. A basal skull fracture is the deadly aspect of a head-on collision. They started selling HANS in 1990 before the racing community recognized and understood a lot about biomechanics and the significance of head and neck injuries.
The first HANS device was large and fitted only a limited number of drivers and cockpits. In 1997 they started developing the current version, the device was smaller and lighter, and almost all cockpits and racers were fitted. In both the sled crash tests and the race tracks, HANS reduced injuries in the event of accidents. A lot of racers have to recognize that HANS has saved his life.
Several of the F1 drivers did not want to use it, but by the end of the first proper test day of the 2003 World Championship, the majority of drivers accepted the HANS Head and Neck Support system, although several drivers have probably saved head-on impacts since then. But Felipe Massa was the first man ever to race with HANS at the 2002 Monza Grand Prix, and his crash at the 2004 Canadian Grand Prix when Brazil hit the tires at 150 km / h at the hairpin was probably the first time HANS had made a difference and potentially saved the driver's life.
There was resistance from other drivers, including Jacques Villeneuve, Juan Pablo Montoya and Nick Heidfeld.
Villeneuve was concerned about how HANS might react in certain types of accidents; Montoya and Heidfeld were uncomfortable as they both liked driving a car using not only their wrists but their shoulders, and the HANS device inhibited this.
Mainly, the HANS works like an airbag. But instead of inflating the cushion to stop the occupant 's motion in a collision, the driver's head is secured by a raised collar and two polyester-fabric tethers. The driver's shoulder straps hold the tall, stiff necklace securely in place. The ties link the sides of the driver's helmet to the anchor points of the collar. When g-loads are built during the forward impact, the HANS device ensures that the driver's helmeted head moves with the torso so that the vulnerable neck and skull bones are not overloaded.
The restraint provided by the HANS device reduces the tension of the neck by 81%, the shear by 72% and the overall load of the neck by 78%. The head has a tolerable 62 g. Because the driver's head and neck are now in sync with the movement of his torso, the g-forces of the chest rise slightly, although the compression of the chest is reduced.
Nowadays, thankfully, motorsports safety is taken seriously. No driver with a brain worth protecting would consider racing without a HANS device.
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