Helmet Safety Certifications

If you choose to wear a helmet when you ride, (and I hope you do). There are a two certifications in the US to be aware of.

It is critical to note that helmets have been continually shown to
be effective in reducing head injury, regardless of what standard
they might meet.  The only noteworthy exception is the novelty
helmet worn in protest of mandatory helmet use laws.  These
"helmets" do not meet any standard and cannot be expected to
provide meaningful head protection. 

In the United States, there have historically been two helmet
standards applicable to motorcycle helmets.  The FMVSS 218 or
DOT is the mandatory U.S.  government standard that all
motorcycle helmets must meet to be legal for sale and use on public
roads and highways. 

This standard was first issued in 1974 and was updated in 1980 and
again in 1988.  Much work has been done toward another update in
the near future.  The second standard is issued by the Snell Memorial Foundation, a private organization that issues its own
motorcycle helmet standard.  

The Federal Motor Vehicle Safety
Standard (FMVSS) known as FMVSS 218 (49CFR571.218), describes in
great detail the requirements for "DOT" certification of
all helmets sold in the United States for use by motorcyclists. 
Helmets that do not meet the minimal DOT certification standards may
not be sold as "motorcycle helmets." 

The Snell Memorial Foundation is an additional certification source
intended to provide testing standards and "Snell"
certification to a different standard than FMVSS 218.  The Snell
standards don't replace the DOT standards; meeting Snell standards is
completely voluntary.  All motorcycle helmets sold in the U.S.A.
must be DOT
"certified", in that they must have gone through the proper
procedures in a certified testing lab to meet DOT standards for
motorcycle helmets, but they are not required to be Snell certified. 

A motorcycle helmet that carries both DOT and Snell
standards may have gone through different testing schemes, but may
not necessarily be superior to helmets that meets the DOT standard. 


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  • Leaving my safety to a manufacturer the government lets self test their helmets is not good and bad policy. I don't feel the govermnment should tell me what I should wear for safety unless they require it for all drivers. The CDC states that the car driver is twice the cost of Motorcyclists for head trauma in the America, so who should be wearing the helmets? A helmet that is DOT approved is only tested to a speed of 15mph. My street speed limit is 30 mph; so after I leave my driveway its not really helpful. All the data you claim proves that helmets are effective is pure speculation and created by an agency that wants everyone to where helmets. Mark Twain once said there are lies, damn lies, and statistics. Motorcyclists are smart enough to make their own decisions on what makes them safe and a DOT helmet is a Illusion of safety perpetuated by the government. this illusion of safety is what kills the young rider they feel they are safe because the government says wear a helmet you are safe on a motorcycle. Far from the truth.

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