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post #1 of 42 (permalink) Old 05-05-2010, 01:42 PM Thread Starter
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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
Bottom Line
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.
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post #2 of 42 (permalink) Old 05-05-2010, 01:47 PM Thread Starter
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Some of this is duplicate info but another source...
Written by Charles Palmer


...For starters, these ratings were created to offer objective criteria for certifying helmet safety. As a result, instead of relying on what a manufacturer or dealer might tell a buyer, now the buyer can identify real criteria in judging the measure of protection offered by a particular helmet.

But what testing procedures are employed in determining that criteria? Let's begin with the DOT rating.

DOT Rating

The DOT performs a straight forward impact test. Using a simulated head placed inside a helmet, testers drop the helmet from a height of ten feet. The head cannot receive more than 400 G-force units on impact. A G-force unit measures the force of gravity exerted against an object in motion.

Now here's the kicker with DOT rated helmets--manufacturers don't need to test their helmets in order to claim a DOT rating! A helmet manufacturer simply needs to feel that a helmet is meeting the DOT specifications to brand it as "DOT rated." The DOT might occasionally pull helmets to perform testing, but the majority of helmets sold as DOT certified do not undergo any level of testing.

Snell Rating

The Snell certification stands in rigorous contrast to DOT specifications. Helmet manufacturers voluntarily submit their products to the Snell evaluation service and pay for the testing procedures. These procedures are extensive and include seven test types, from impact to shell penetration tests to flame resistance testing. The type and degree of testing is dependent on the type of helmet and its application.

Snell cites the following areas as critical in helmet safety:


Impact management: how well the helmet protects against collisions with large objects;
Helmet positional stability: whether the helmet will be in place, on the head, when it's needed;
Retention system strength: whether the chin straps are sufficiently strong enough to hold the helmet throughout a head impact; and
Extent of protection: the area of the head protected by the helmet.

Snell Memorial Foundation, Inc. ( 2005). 2005 Standard for Protective Headgear, 4.

In short, Snell offers the highest certification standards regarding helmet safety. But a buyer will pay a higher price for Snell certified helmets, as the added costs of production and testing add to the overall value of the helmet.

Safety Matters

A number of points exist in the mind of a buyer when considering a helmet purchase. Style, color, fit, and comfort are extremely important factors when purchasing a helmet. Price is also a consideration for many buyers. However, safety should be paramount when purchasing a helmet. If you scrimp too much on price, you might get a nice looking helmet that unfortunately doesn't hold up in those critical moments. So take the time, do your homework, and find a helmet that will keep you alive and allow you to keep riding for years to come.
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post #3 of 42 (permalink) Old 05-05-2010, 02:34 PM
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Good read, Red.




Most 4-wheeler problems are caused by a loose nut connecting the handlebars and the seat!!

You only need two tools in life -- WD-40 and duct tape. If it doesn't move and should, use the WD-40. If it shouldn't move and does, use the duct tape.
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post #4 of 42 (permalink) Old 05-05-2010, 03:10 PM
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Good articial Red, and people when you do have a head impact you are suppose to replace you helmet you don't know how the helmet mat have been compromised don't take the chance with a possible damaged helmet.

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post #5 of 42 (permalink) Old 05-05-2010, 03:14 PM Thread Starter
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Exactly correct, helmets are considered one time use. The inner protective foam loses it's structural integrity on just a drop from 3+ feet. Imagine what happens to the pad after you bounce at 40 mph or a 500lbs machine rolls on you.

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post #6 of 42 (permalink) Old 05-05-2010, 04:52 PM
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Excellent info...at dealership I was told that the snell rated helmets just cost more due to the extra testing but DOT was just as safe. Bought CRX helmets hope they are ok!
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post #7 of 42 (permalink) Old 05-05-2010, 05:56 PM
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Greaty info!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

NEVER TAKE A SLEEPING PILL AND A LAXATIVE IN THE SAME NIGHT!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Exbsw5ssn4I
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post #8 of 42 (permalink) Old 05-05-2010, 08:00 PM Thread Starter
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DOT is plenty safe for the average rider. I just know there is a lot of confusion when it comes to these ratings.

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post #9 of 42 (permalink) Old 05-05-2010, 11:16 PM
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That was some good info. Great find

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post #10 of 42 (permalink) Old 05-06-2010, 08:23 PM
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wow good read i always use a snell when racing cars but never read anything like that. but i always recommend a snell rated helmet
even moreso know.
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