For your birthday, you’ve decided that you’re going to treat yourself to a brand new motorcycle. However, before you’re allowed to even step foot on Metropolitan Scooters’ lot, your girlfriend has insisted on taking you to pick out a helmet. She has told you that as a birthday present she’ll get you any motorcycle helmet you want, as long as its safety standards are high.

Having never had a motorcycle before, you’re not exactly sure what to look for when it comes to purchasing a helmet: what does each standard mean, how do they differ and what other facets should you pay attention to when choosing your motorcycle helmet, in order to keep yourself safe and your girlfriend happy?

Standard Classifications of Helmet Protection

When purchasing a motorcycle helmet, not only do you have to pay attention to comfort and fit, but also to the safety standard associated with it, in order to make sure you have the best helmet for your untended use. Most helmets will have one or more of three different classifications: DOT, ECE 22.05 and Snell.

  • DOT (Department of Transportation) standards – Are based on on-road safety tests and must be certified for road conditions and potential road accidents, as opposed to off-road incidents. Every manufacturer can claim DOT standards after their own testing but must periodically submit samples to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for verification. The NHTSA will then test to make sure the helmets pass major component testing such as: impact and energy absorption, penetration resistance, strap retention effectiveness, vision obscurities, and the ability to withstand environmental forces.
  • ECE 22.05 (Economic Commission for Europe) standards – Are similar to DOT standards and are used throughout 47 countries based on a United Nations agreement and specific regulations (22.05). However, ECE 22.05 test additional safety areas including scraping resistance, shell strength, and visor stability and protection. Unlike the DOT, ECE requires batch sampling before it can be certified.
  • Snell (Snell Memorial Foundation M2010) standards – Go above governmental standards and are used for certifying safety of prototype helmets before they go into production. Although certification is voluntary, a Snell certified helmet offers the added comfort of knowing the helmet has been vigorously safety tested. Not only does it go through the same tests as DOT and ECE 22.05, but it’s also tested for stability and flame resistance.

Depending on your needs, fit, and taste in helmet design, the DOT standard is considered the norm for motorcycle helmets; however, if you prefer a higher safety standard that’s officially monitored from start to finish, ECE 22.05 and/or Snell certified helmets are the way to go.

No matter what your decision, make sure your head is fully protected every time you get on your bike. Motorcycle accidents can be extremely traumatic and if you’re not protected, you could fatally suffer or experience irreparable head, neck, or brain injuries.

Know someone who is having a tough time deciding what type of helmet to purchase? Please, feel free to share this page with him via email, Facebook, or Twitter, to help him understand the different safety standards.

Need more information about motorcycle safety or accident rights? Contact us directly for a free consultation. We’re here to help answer any and all of your questions and concerns.