The FMVSS-218 certification, better known as DOT certification, is the legal minimum standard that helmets must pass in the United States. Theoretically, it is illegal to sell helmets that do not pass DOT tests in the US.
A fake or novelty helmet is sold as an official motorcycle helmet to consumers who want to have fun but are unwilling to pay for the full cost of an actual motorcycle helmet. These illegal helmets often come in DOT-compliant styles, making them harder for law enforcement to catch.
Despite the weakness of the laws, the DOT standard is the most important safety requirement for motorcycle helmets in the United States. Most of the motorcycle helmets sold in the USA meet the DOT standards.
For a helmet to meet DOT standards it must pass an impact test, a penetration test, a retention strap test, and a peripheral vision test. There are four separate tests that a helmet must pass to qualify for DOT certification.
These are difficult certification tests, but the standard is somewhat less stringent than for some other motorcycle helmet certifications. An impact test requires that you strike the helmet against an anvil to see how hard of a crash it can withstand.
Use the correct size anvil for the helmet, no matter what the size of the head. Make sure the helmet fits securely.
The next step for your motorcycle helmet is to go through a series of safety tests that mimic real-life situations where you might find yourself in danger. The helmet must be able to stand up to repeated collisions at high speeds without failure, for example. The testing is rigorous.
There are three tests for the helmet. If the helmet passes all of them, it passes the safety test. Weights are used to test the strap. If the strap breaks when it is wet, hot, or cold, the helmet passes the retention strap test.
A helmet must be comfortable. There is a limit on how long the helmet can be pulled on. Finally, any helmet that interferes with the wearer’s vision will not pass. The best helmets allow the wearers to see at least 105 degrees of peripheral vision.
Other helmets are not vastly different from the standard DOT test. You need to stand up to impact and pointed objects and the helmet must be able to work in any condition.
DOT is the standard for motorcycle crash helmets. When you buy one of them, you expect it to offer a good level of protection and work pretty well as a helmet. Part of that good level of protection is a good fit, which is why it’s so important to try on different sizes before you buy one.
The DOT.FMVSS 218 certification means that the helmet complies with the safety standards set by the Department of Transport (DOT) and has passed extensive tests that prove its ability to protect a rider’s head in the event of a crash.
What all of this means is that if you buy a helmet with a DOT sticker on the back, it’s probably been tested for safety against impacts and has proven to be safe, and will likely keep you out of a hospital.
When it comes to safety, your best bet is to buy one of the most affordable ones that meet the NHTSA’s guidelines. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) makes a set of standards available to all manufacturers looking to sell helmets in the US.
Manufacturers need to produce helmets that’ll pass the tests. If they do, they’re allowed to self-certify that the helmet will pass FMVSS 218 and put a DOT sticker on the helmet when it goes on sale.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration then tests various helmet models to ensure they comply with FMVSS 218 standards. If the NHTSA finds a helmet that doesn’t meet these standards, the helmet is removed from sale and the manufacturer has to either repair or replace the helmets at their own cost.
They can face very stiff fines. The test itself includes three parts. First, it’s called the ‘impact attenuation test’ – which means that the helmets are subject to impacts against a rounded and flat anvil after they’ve been conditioned to reflect four different operating environments.
You can find out more about the certification process of the EPS helmets for triathlon and bike racing.
This can be tested on the market. In addition to this, Testers can choose where to strike the helmet – provided it’s above a ‘test line’ (which can be approximated by the location of the center of the faceguard), and then drop the striker. The striker can be dropped from any height, from just under 120 to 130 inches, so Testers can get as close to reality as they can.
And finally, the retention strap is tested under 50 and 300lbs loads to ensure it doesn’t elongate more than an inch after load. The only other check that the helmet then undergoes is to ensure that there’s enough peripheral vision allowed by the helmet – that’s a minimum of 105 degrees from the center.
When it comes to protecting your head, you want to know you’re wearing the correct helmet, and if the company says its helmets have passed all of the DOT certifications and tests, then that company knows what they’re doing.
However, helmet manufacturers are also required by law to put a label on/inside the helmet that states the manufacturer’s name, model, size, construction materials, and month/year of manufacture – and helmets that don’t meet the FMVSS 218 standards don’t usually have the correct labeling in place.
The first thing you should do if you’re wondering whether or not your helmet complies with federal law requirements is head over to the NHTSA official website. There you’ll find more information about the DOT requirements and why they exist.
DOT motorcycle crash helmets perform well and are well-regulated, so you can be sure your safety is protected. Your expectations for a helmet should be met when you buy one.
All helmets must pass the DOT FMVSS 218 test for head protection. If the helmets don’t pass the DOT test, the manufacturer and importer could be fined and the helmet removed from sale.
These are all good things, and it should mean that if you buy a helmet with a DOT sticker on the back, it meets certain minimum standards for absorbing the shock of an impact; resisting impact penetration, and having a retention strap that doesn’t stretch like a rubber band.
It’s a set of rules that all helmets must follow to make sure they’re safe for the public. What is the DOT test? The way it works is that the National Highways Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) makes a set of standards available to all manufacturers looking to sell helmets in the U.S.
Manufacturers are also required to produce helmets that pass the test. However, these helmets cannot put a DOT sticker on them unless the manufacturer has passed all of the FMVSS 218 tests and has been found to meet or exceed the minimum requirements.
If the OVSC find a helmet that does not meet their safety standards they remove it from the market. The consumer will either have to buy another helmet or fix or replace the helmet. If a vendor is found guilty of not replacing or fixing the helmet they can be fined heavily. The test itself consists of 3 parts.
A helmet’s impact attenuation test is used to determine whether it’s capable of preventing skull fractures from certain impacts. During this test, the helmet is subjected to an anvil that’s flattened on top and rounded at the bottom.
We test each helmet’s performance by looking at its impact resistance in four extreme riding conditions. It’s also important to note that each helmet is tested at four sites with two impacts at each location.
Testers can choose where on the helmet to impact providing it’s above a ‘test line’, approximated below. Next, is a penetration test where a 6lb 10oz pointed striker is dropped from 118 inches onto various parts all around the helmet – again against helmets that have been pre-conditioned to reflect four different operating conditions.
The retention strap is tested under 50 and 300-lb loads to ensure it doesn’t elongate more than an inch after load. It’s also checked for proper fit before the sale. The only other check that the helmet undergoes is to ensure that there’s enough peripheral vision allowed by the helmet. That’s a minimum of 105 degrees from the center.
If you have a helmet that has passed all the DOT tests, it’s a good idea to keep it in your trunk or in the passenger seat. Otherwise, the police could confiscate your helmet and find you for it. So if you want to avoid getting a ticket, make sure your helmet passes DOT compliance tests.
A label on/inside a helmet has to indicate the make/model/year and size/construction material. In addition, helmets that don’t meet FMVSS 218 standards may lack some or all of this labeling.
In general, a DOT helmet has certain performance standards for energy management and energy absorption. It should also be DOT compliant. But just because it says “DOT compliant” does not necessarily mean it’s going to be as safe as you’d think. And there are other things you have to look at too. A DOT-compliant helmet could still be unsafe. You can learn more about this and other factors about helmets in this article from the NHTSA.
What about DOT AND ECE Certified Helmets?
The DOT certification process is fairly consistent all over the world. We do expect people using DOT helmets in the USA to wear them as required by the US Department of Transportation. In Europe, however, we’re still seeing more helmets with ECE certification than those certified to the DOT standard. That suggests that people outside the USA are still more familiar with ECE certification standards than they are with the DOT standard.
A helmet model might be DOT certified over here and have passed ECE tests in Europe, so technically be legal in both areas. The problem is that most helmets don’t carry both DOT and ECE stickers – they usually have one or the other.
When it comes to helmets, each country has different requirements, so make sure that your helmet displays the proper certification. For example, your helmet needs to have a DOT sticker on the back of the helmet, and it needs to be labeled correctly.
You can sometimes get confused when it comes to helmets because some brands, manufacturers, or distributors in the US say that their helmets are the same as the European helmets when they aren’t. For example, HJC USA says that their helmets are the same as the European helmets, but they actually aren’t.
Some helmets come with DOT and ECE stickers on the back. That should be the same helmet in both countries – even though the name and label are different. The ECE certification test is not necessarily the last word on the safety of your helmet.
While that may be, there is a difference between a helmet that does provide minimal protection and one which provides the best possible protection. A motorcycle helmet certified by Snell or the like should always be your top choice.
Is DOT certified enough?
Is it enough for a helmet to be DOT certified? A DOT-certified helmet is a minimum you should look for when you are buying a motorcycle helmet. It is the bare minimum.
When DOT “approves” a motorcycle helmet for safety purposes, it means that the helmet will meet the DOT requirements for safety when used on the street by the typical motorcyclist.
Besides meeting the right standards to protect you from injury in a collision, the right helmet will provide a comfortable fit and the right amount of protection.
An open-face, “Jet ½” style helmet is a lot less safe than a full-face or full-coverage helmet. An open-face helmet is also less comfortable, and more expensive.
What helmet safety standards does the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) require?
DOT mandates that all motorcyclists wear helmets with an inner liner made of one-inch thick, firm polystyrene foam. If it cannot be felt, then the liner must meet this standard.
Your helmet should be sturdy and weigh about three pounds. It should be secured to your head with a strap that goes over your chin. There should be no protrusions more than two-tenths of an inch from the surface of the helmet.