The basic physical mechanisms underlying recent experimentally observed anomalous behavior in the impact performance of safety helmets evaluated with soft (human-like) and hard (magnesium alloy) headform surrogates are qualitatively and quantitatively explained in this paper. The principal and physical mechanisms brought to light in the headform surrogate investigation are directly applicable to the utilization of other forms of surrogates (head -neck, thorax, whole body). In particular the results raise a serious question as to the validity of using non-human responding surrogates, with human generated injury tolerance data, for the purpose of assessing safety system performance. The implications of the results are that good crash-impact protective devices (helmets, restraints, etc.) could be penalized and, equally important, less safe crash-impact protective system designs could result from improper assessment of safety system performance.