Safety Guidelines in Motorcycle Helmets
When riding a motorcycle, the matter of safety is of the utmost importance. Riding without a helmet can be fatal in an accident which is why most riders know the value of a great helmet. When choosing a helmet for your needs, there are a few things to know about safety guidelines in motorcycle helmets. Let’s take a closer look at the main standards used in helmets.
Keep in mind that these standards are intended to test the safety elements of a helmet. It is not to say that one standard or certification is necessarily better than the others.
DOT Helmet Standard
The DOT (Department of Transportation) helmet standard is one of the most common standards on the market today. This is only one of a few safety guidelines in motorcycle helmets, but it is also the only one that is suggested for roadway riding by the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) enforcement authority. This is not to say that NHTSA tests the helmets or has anything to do with the manufacturing process to ensure safety, but rather that manufacturers create and test their helmets to meet the standard of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard #218, so they can apply a DOT emblem to the helmet. The NHTSA will randomly collect sample products from manufacturers using a DOT emblem and send them to outside party testing companies to ensure they meet the standard and if not, the company can expect to pay hefty fines.
The main things a DOT standard helmet is tested for are energy absorption or impact attenuation, penetration resistance, and the effectiveness of the retention system. This standard also requires a peripheral vision to be not less than 105 degrees from the helmet midline.
ECE 22.05 Helmet Standard
Standing for Economic Commission for Europe, ECE helmets must meet the standard of ECE 22.05 which are similar to DOT in a few ways. With the same focus on peripheral vision of 105 degree minimum, an ECE standard helmet is also tested for several of the same measures of safety such as impact absorption. They test the helmet in many of the same manners such as dropping a steel anvil from a fixed height to test penetration resistance. They do test a few things the DOT standards do not test such as abrasion resistance and the rigidity of the shell as well as visor performance. ECE helmets are not tested at random once the product is manufactured but rather as part of the batch test when production begins on helmets.
Snell (Snell Memorial Foundation M2010) Helmet Standard
The Snell Memorial Foundation has been testing helmets since 1957 and operates as a private, non-profit organization. They test helmets in the prototype stage to ensure a safe solution for riders. Manufacturers submit their helmets to Snell prior to putting them on the market to look for areas of improvement in regard to matters similar to both DOT and ECE standards. A Snell-certified helmet is not allowed to be altered from the prototype once certified or the manufacturer will lose the certification. While a Snell certification is voluntary in terms of federal authorities, it may be a requirement in some competitions.
A Snell test ensures many of the same things as DOT and ECE such as the peripheral vision, impact absorption, and penetration. However, they test it with five different anvil shapes and multiple heights to test different scenarios. They also test matters such as positional stability, strength of chin bar, retention systems, and more. They are one of the few standards to test for flame resistance for racing helmets. They also perform a penetration resistance to the face shield by shooting an air rifle in multiple areas of the shield.