Important Helmet info/ DOT vs. SNELL
Beginning in 1974, motorcycle helmets were required to meet the minimum requirements established by FMVSS 218, the standard detailed guidelines and test criteria a helmet must pass to receive a " DOT" approval. Over the years, slight changes have been made to FMVSS 218. However, 36 years later the standard remains essentially unchanged from its original draft form.
How does the DOT monitor compliance with FMVSS 218? Would you be surprised to learn it's based on the honor system? Yes, you read that correct. The government relies on the manufacturer's word that the helmet was tested and passed!
In 2001, 20% of the tested helmets failed the performance tests. Helmets manufactured by AFX, Fulmer, HJC, M2R, NEXL and THH. At a 20% failure rate, do you think there are others out there that might fail the performance test?
DOT vs. Snell - Verification
To receive the Snell certification, a manufacturer must submit five helmets of a particular style. Of them, four are destroyed in testing and one is retained as a reference. If the helmet passes and the manufacturer enters into a contract, the helmet is certified. Then the SMF regularly buys samples of the helmet to test for continued compliance with the standard.
The DOT certification is done on the honor system. The helmet manufacturer determines whether their helmets satisfy DOT requirements and then claim the qualification for themselves. There is no reporting or proof of testing required. The government does conduct very, very limited spot checks at commercial and private labs.
DOT vs. Snell
The DOT standard is by no means a bad standard, Snell is simply better. Snell uses harder impacts while requiring lower forces to the rider. Bottom line, a Snell certified helmet exceeds the DOT standard.
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Last edited by Redracer; 05-05-2010 at 03:06 PM.