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.
Filed under: Motorcycle Helmet Safety