Home Blog Approved Motorcycle Helmets – DOT and SNELL Standards
Approved Motorcycle Helmets – DOT and SNELL Standards

Approved Motorcycle Helmets – DOT and SNELL Standards


Making sure your motorcycle helmet is safe is one of the responsibilities of today’s motorcycle rider. Helmet companies abide by several different safety groups like DOT and SNELL. The DOT approved helmet may cost you more, but it is guaranteed to be safer than a helmet that is not a DOT approved.

The DOT and SNELL reviews offer advice for all types of helmets. They should be used to find out what the national and worldwide standards are for each helmet type. It is also a good way to find out what the specific helmet laws are for all areas.

In order to provide the best safety through helmets, there must be a uniformed standard of safety. This is mostly used in professional racing. If there were no standard for safety than helmet companies could make helmets out of the pillow and sell them as being safe.

The DOT and SNELL reviews are meant to be a protection of the consumer. They do the research and safety tests that consumers cannot do themselves. They then report the results and make their judgments on each product sold within the world.

Helmet Testing

In addition to these two agencies, all helmets made or sold in the United States must be approved by the Department of Transportation. Through research through the Department of Highways, they have come up with a set of standards that all helmets must pass in order to be sold or made in America.

DOT and SNELL are things to pay attention to. If your helmet is not approved by these groups, then there is a reason why. Many helmets are approved and go way beyond the minimum requirements, so when a helmet is not approved, it is way below par.

Many states are now enforcing helmet laws. States like Tennessee will ticket you and refuse to let you ride without a helmet. This may seem like an annoyance to some veteran riders, but it is for your own safety.

Most states have rules on wearing helmets, having an attached seat, wearing an approved helmet, and passenger limits. Many states will also enforce an age limit on helmet use. Many states say persons under 18 must always wear a helmet. This includes when operating a motorcycle or scooter.

These laws are really for the protection of the riders in the area. There are reasons for these laws, and they are not just to annoy riders who hate helmets. They are to offer a little common sense to all rider and remind them of the importance of wearing an approved helmet.

  • DOT Approved Helmet – Better Than Snell?

All legal Motorcycle helmets carry the DOT approved motorcycle helmet stickers. The DOT approved motorcycle helmet sticker must be attached to all motorcycle helmets sold in the US. But you will also find the Snell approval sticker, which is not required to be on all motorcycle helmets.

But what do these approvals mean to you, the buyer of a motorcycle helmet, and how is a motorcycle helmet tested to make sure the rider’s head is safe inside it?

FMVSS 218DOT stands for the US Department of Transport certification. To be able to put the DOT approved helmet sticker on a motorcycle helmet, the manufacturer must prove that the helmet meets the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard for motorcycle helmets or FMVSS 218. This standard details all the safety requirements a motorcycle helmet must meet before being certified. No motorcycle helmet can be sold in the US that does not meet this standard.

The DOT approved motorcycle helmet standard was first applied in 1974 and had been twice updated, in 1980 and 1988. A further update is planned in the near future.

For DOT certification, manufacturers are required to test the motorcycle helmets themselves and report the results to the Department of Transport. If the helmets meet specifications, a DOT approved motorcycle helmet sticker is issued.

But it is not entirely up to the manufacturer. Every year, the Department of Transport conducts random tests on the motorcycle helmets that carry its stickers, ensuring that the standards have been met as reported by the manufacturer. The results of these random tests are reported on the US Department of Transport website.

The Snell Memorial Foundation, a private, not for profit organization, conducts the Snell tests. The Snell certification is conducted on the manufacturer’s helmet by the Smell organization with its own testing equipment. The certification is called M(20..), and motorcycle helmets sold in the US are not required to carry this sticker.

Snell Stickers

The standard test for a motorcycle helmet is to set the helmet on a head form and drop it onto a steel anvil. The test must be repeated so that the motorcycle helmet is impacted in at least four places.

The impact is measured by an accelerometer which is placed inside the head form. The accelerometer records the number of Gs absorbed by the head form.

As this corresponds to the impact that will be felt by a human head inside the motorcycle, the lower the number of Gs recorded, the better.

The intention with all motorcycle helmet testing is to see how well the motorcycle protects the rider’s head. Since it has been shown that 95 percent of all motorcycle accidents occurs at speeds well below those used in testing, you can be certain that motorcycle helmets with DOT and Snell approved motorcycle helmet stickers have passed rigorous tests and will give excellent protection.

“Motorcycle Helmet Safety Ratings”


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