The federal Department of Transportation (referred to hereafter as DOT) mandates that all motorcycle helmets in the U.S. be tested for safety. The DOT does its own in-house testing on these helmets, labeling those that meet its standards. If you are thinking about buying a motorcycle helmet and do not see a DOT sticker, think again. This is not a helmet you want to trust with your life. They are likely meant as a novelty item, not for motorcycle riding.
Get a proper helmet on your head, and get your head around these statistics –
The DOT’s studies show that the percentage of motorcycle riders wearing helmets has dropped 13 percent in the last four years, down to 58 percent of riders. Despite accounting for only 2 percent of the traffic on our roads, motorcycles are involved in 10 percent of all road accidents. Deaths from motorcycle accidents have more than doubled in the last decade, and number over 4,500 highway fatalities annually. There are also 78,000 motorcycle crash related injuries, and the rate of accidents among motorcycle riders over the age of 50 has increased fourfold.
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards –
The NHTSA, or National Highway Traffic Safety Administration set a FMVSS (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard) for motorcycle helmets in the U.S. all the way back in August of 1973. This was last updated in October 1998. These standards cover impact and penetration protection, as well as being able to remain on the rider’s head during an accident. There is also a requirement that motorcycle helmets sold in the U.S. allow at least a 210 degree field of vision, and a multitude of regulations regarding the labeling of helmets.
Labeling requirements –
So what are these labeling requirements? A sticker or label from the DOT must be attached on the back of the helmet, centrally located and towards the bottom. There also must be a DOT label permanently sewn in to the inside, and not located where it could be removed along with the foam cushioning. A genuine DOT label will have the following information: the name or logo of the manufacturer, size, date of manufacture, model name or number and the components from which the helmet is made. If you do not see this information on the label, do not, repeat do not purchase this helmet.
Beware of the novelties –
Novelty helmets, such as the iconic Prussian style helmets may be popular and stylish, but do not provide adequate protection in a crash and as such are never DOT approved. These aforementioned helmets do not even cover much of the head and are therefore unsafe to wear while riding. If you see a DOT sticker on one of these novelty helmets, check inside for the DOT label; sadly, frauds are out there – don’t be let yourself be fooled into thinking a novelty helmet has DOT approval.
Unless you intend the helmet to be worn for a costume party, take a pass on it.