Motorcycle Helmet Safety Standards: Everything you need to know

Do you love motorcycles? Whether or not you do, if you live in the United States, there’s a good chance that you know someone who owns a motorcycle. In fact, according to the US Department of Transportation, in 2014 over 9 million motorcycles were registered in the country.

If you’re going to be riding on a motorcycle with another person, then even though it may seem completely safe because no one else is driving near your motorcycle, it’s important to think about safety.

One way to make sure that you can have fun and be safe is by wearing high-quality helmets when on your bike.

In order for a helmet to truly protect your head from injuries during an impact, they need to meet specific safety standards. No matter what helmet you choose, it’s important to make sure that it meets the safety standards set by your state and the Department of Transportation.

Motorcycle Helmet Safety Standards

There are many different types of motorcycle helmets on the market as well as different standards. In this article, we will explore the different standards and what they mean for you and your safety!

When it comes to choosing a motorcycle helmet, there are three main safety standards to consider: DOT, Snell, and ECE. The most common standard in the US is DOT, which is regulated by the Department of Transportation.

Helmets that meet this standard must have passed a series of tests that measure their impact absorption, penetration resistance, and retention system strength.

The Snell Memorial Foundation is an independent, nonprofit organization that sets voluntary safety standards for helmets. Snell-approved helmets are often more expensive than DOT-approved helmets, but they offer better protection.

ECE is the European standard and is considered to be the most rigorous. Helmets that meet this standard must pass a series of tests that measure impact absorption, penetration resistance, and retention system strength, as well as flammability and optical properties.

— Also read: 10 Brilliant Ways to Reuse & Recycle Old Motorcycle Helmets?

No matter which standard your helmet meets, it’s important to make sure that it’s in good condition. A helmet that has been in a crash should be replaced, even if it doesn’t appear to be damaged.

The foam inside the helmet can be compressed during a crash, which will reduce its ability to protect your head in a subsequent crash.

Choosing the right motorcycle helmet is an important decision, and it’s important to make sure that you choose a helmet that meets the safety standards of your state and the Department of Transportation.

Be sure to inspect your helmet regularly and replace it if it has been in a crash. Have fun on your motorcycle, but always remember to wear a helmet!

Types Of Safety Standards

There are three main organizations that rate motorcycle helmets for safety- the US Department of Transportation (DOT), the European Union (ECE) and Australia (AS/NZS).

DOT is the only organization that has a mandatory helmet standard, which all helmets must meet in order to be sold in the United States. ECE and AS/NZS are both voluntary helmet standards, but they are also the most common ones used worldwide.

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The DOT standard is the most basic and covers only a few safety aspects, such as impact testing. The ECE standard is more comprehensive and includes tests for both impact and penetration.

It also has stricter requirements for materials and construction. The AS/NZS standard is even more rigorous and includes additional tests for lateral deformation and retention system effectiveness.

Not all helmets meet these safety standards, so it’s important to check the label before you buy one. If a helmet doesn’t have a safety certification sticker from one of these organizations, it’s not necessarily unsafe, but it may not offer as much protection in the event of an accident.

It’s also important to note that motorcycle helmets are designed for standard riding conditions. Riding in the rain, through puddles, on unpaved roads or off-road is very dangerous and should be avoided if possible.

A DOT-approved helmet will not protect your head very well during these activities, so you may want to consider purchasing an additional helmet specifically for these rides.

How to find out which type of safety standard your helmet meets by reading the label on it?

The best way to assure that you are buying a helmet which will provide the protection you want and need is by checking for safety standards.

Every helmet sold in North America has a sticker on it with the letter “DOT” [U.S. Department of Transportation] followed by a number indicating what type of conformity that model of helmet meets [i.e., whether it meets the DOT FMVSS 218 safety standard].

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The following list shows what types of safety standards your riding helmet must meet in order to be legal for motorcycle use in various states:

State Helmet Standard(s)

  • Alabama DOT FMVSS 218
  • Alaska Motorcycle Safety Foundation (AS/RS-002 Rev 9/08, 2010 Addendum)
  • Arizona Snell M2010 or Snell N94 or DOT FMVSS 218
  • Arkansas Snell M2010
  • California DOT FMVSS 218 Colorado Snell 2010 or ECE 22.05
  • Connecticut DOT FMVSS 218, AS/NZS 1698 (7th edition 2007)
  • Delaware Snell M2010
  • District of Columbia DOT FMVSS 218
  • Florida DOT FMVSS 218
  • Georgia DOT FMVSS 218
  • Hawaii Snell M2005 or DOT FMVSS 218
  • Idaho Snell RS-98 I
  • Illinois ECE 2205
  • Indiana ECE 2205
  • Iowa Department of Transportation Motorcycle Safety Standard 200
  • Kansas SCC K 1203.005
  • Kentucky SC K-90
  • Louisiana SE 210
  • Maine T,E,C MS 250
  • Maryland SNELL SA
  • Massachusetts SNELL B-95
  • Michigan SNELL M2010
  • Minnesota DOT FMVSS 218
  • Mississippi Snell M2005
  • Missouri ECE 22.05
  • Montana Snell M2010
  • Nebraska Snell N94
  • Nevada Snell 2010
  • New Jersey SNELL SA2010
  • New Mexico Snell 2010
  • New York SNELL B-95
  • North Carolina DOT FMVSS 218
  • North Dakota Snell N94
  • Ohio ECE 22.05
  • Oklahoma Snell M2005
  • Oregon SNELL M2010
  • Pennsylvania ECE 22.05
  • Rhode Island DOT FMVSS 218
  • South Carolina DOT FMVSS 218
  • South Dakota SAE J211
  • Texas Snell SA2010
  • Utah Snell 2010
  • Vermont CSA Z94.3
  • Virginia SNELL SA2010
  • Washington DOT FMVSS 218
  • West Virginia SAE J212
  • Wisconsin DOT FMVSS 218
  • Wyoming Snell 2010

Your motorcycle helmet must meet the standards for the state you are riding in to be legal. Helmets indicate which standard they meet by putting on a label with the letter “DOT” followed by the number that represents what standard it meets (see above list).

For example, if your helmet says “DOT FMVSS 218” on its label, then your helmet meets the DOT FMVSS 218 safety standard.

If your helmet does not say on its label whether or not it meets a safety standard, it does NOT meet any safety standard and is NOT legal for motorcycle use.

If you cannot find an official label indicating what type of conformity your model of motorcycle helmet meets, you can remove the helmet and look for a manufacturer label or logo inside the helmet. The label or logo will indicate what type of safety standard your helmet meets.

If you are still unsure after reading the label or logo, contact the helmet manufacturer and ask them which safety standard their helmet meets.

It is important that you always wear a helmet that meets a safety standard when riding your motorcycle, in order to protect yourself from serious injury in the event of a crash.

By knowing which type of standard your helmet meets, you can be sure that it provides at least some protection against head injuries. Remember, no helmet can guarantee your safety in every situation, but wearing one that meets a safety standard is undoubtedly better than not wearing a helmet at all.

By checking for safety standards before you buy a helmet, you will easily be able to tell if yours is the right choice.

Pros and cons of each Major International Motorcycle Helmet Safety Standards organization’s ratings system

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is a private, non-profit organization that develops and publishes voluntary consensus standards for a wide range of products and services.

ANSI’s ratings system for motorcycle helmets includes tests for impact absorption, penetration resistance, and chinstrap retention. They also measure how well a helmet handles rotational force.

However, their rating system does not include a test for concussion risk. Helmets that meet ANSI’s standards are typically less expensive than those that meet Snell’s standards, but they offer less protection.

The European Union (EU) has put together a specific directive on motorcycle helmets that requires all motorcycle helmets to meet minimum safety requirements. Their standard, EN1078, includes tests for impact absorption and rotational force.

Helmets that meet EN1078 are required on the roads of every EU country, but they do not typically offer as much protection as Snell’s or ANSI’s ratings systems.

The Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) is an international organization that has been working with issues related to vehicle safety since 1959. They are responsible for setting vehicle safety standards in most of the world outside of North America.

ECE’s standard includes tests for impact absorption, penetration resistance, chinstrap retention, and strength of attachment points.

All helmets sold in countries with ECE certification must meet these standards, and they typically offer more protection than helmets that meet EN1078.

When choosing a motorcycle helmet, it is important to consider the different safety standards of each organization. Snell’s ratings system is considered to be the most rigorous, while EN1078 is the least rigorous.

However, all helmets that meet ECE certification must meet certain minimum requirements, so they offer more protection than helmets that meet EN1078.

ANSI’s rating system is somewhere in between Snell’s and EN1078, offering good protection at a lower cost than helmets that meet Snell’s standards.

Whichever organization you choose, make sure that the helmet you select meets their specific rating requirements.

So which standard should you go by when choosing a helmet? Here is a summary of each standard:

-Snell Memorial Foundation: The most rigorous standard, includes tests for impact absorption, penetration resistance, chinstrap retention, and rotational force. Helmets that meet Snell’s standards offer the highest level of protection.

-American National Standards Institute: Includes tests for impact absorption, penetration resistance, and chinstrap retention. Does not include a test for concussion risk.

-European Union: Sets minimum safety requirements that all motorcycle helmets must meet. These requirements include tests for impact absorption and rotational force.

-Economic Commission for Europe: Sets vehicle safety standards in most of the world outside of North America.

All helmets sold in countries with ECE certification must meet certain minimum requirements that include tests for impact absorption and rotational force. Helmets that meet ECE certification typically offer more protection than helmets that meet EN1078.

Tips for Buying a New Helmet

There are a few things you need to take into account when purchasing a new helmet. How much money do you want to spend? What kind of features is important to you? And most importantly, what is your head shape?

If you have a round head, then you should look for a helmet with more rounded edges. If you have an oval head, then look for a helmet that is more elongated. Square heads should seek out helmets with angular shapes.

It’s also important to make sure the helmet fits properly. Many stores offer free fittings, so be sure to take advantage of that service. The helmet should fit snugly but not too tightly. You should also be able to move your head around comfortably in the helmet.

If you’re on a tight budget, it might be wise to buy a used helmet. There are many online marketplaces and auction sites where you can find gently used helmets. Just be sure to check the condition of the helmet and make sure it’s been safety-tested.

If you want a top-of-the-line helmet with all the bells and whistles, then be prepared to spend a bit more money. Helmets with ventilation or Bluetooth compatibility can cost anywhere from $50 to $300. However, there are many affordable options available if you’re not willing to spend a lot of money.

In the end, it’s important to choose a helmet that is suited for your individual needs and budget. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time for research and practice with different helmets when considering the wide variety that is available on the market today.

When you’re out riding, make safety your top priority when choosing a helmet. Because after all, it’s better to be safe than sorry!

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