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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
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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Discussion Starter #2
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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Good read, Red.
 

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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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Discussion Starter #5
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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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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Discussion Starter #8
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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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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Discussion Starter #12
Snell is what you want to follow. Dot passes those little peanut shell helmets that you see street bike guys wearing. DOT test is a drop test, Snell is a all direction testing. I highly recommend any helmet with both ratings.
 

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Snell is what you want to follow. Dot passes those little peanut shell helmets that you see street bike guys wearing. DOT test is a drop test, Snell is a all direction testing. I highly recommend any helmet with both ratings.
great info,I'm in the process of buying a helmet for my son and want a good one for safty,but can't afford the high expensive ones. is any of the helmets on Ebay any good? So basically I need to get a snell rated helmet,not a dot one?
 

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Seems there's a lot of companies not doing the proper safty stuff! Government should protect the consumer better! specially during holidays ...just sad...
 

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Watch out on some of the dot helmets, you can buy that little dot sticker and put it on one to make it look legit.
even buying it from a helmet company, like 123 go helmet? I want to get it for safty,he won't be racing ,but I want him protected just the same. plus I want to get one for me. Say used is out of the question period?
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Every helmet sold MUST be DOT approved. Snell is an optional testing that the companies actually pay for. The DOT test is up to the MFG of the helmet to make it pass. They are rarely check by the government. Snell was a racer that died from his DOT helmet crushing. Now there is a group called Snell that does crush test on helmets.

The try to crush the helmet in every direction possible. DOT drops the helmet from I think 10 feet, if it doesn't crack it passes.

Check out Rocky Mountain ATV's closeout section. Last years stuff with prices reduced.

Closeouts | Rocky Mountain ATV/MC
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Let me clarify. Just because a helmet does not have a Snell rating does not mean it is not a good helmet. MSR, HJC and some other brands do not use Snell but they are just as good as the others.
 

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Every helmet sold MUST be DOT approved. Snell is an optional testing that the companies actually pay for. The DOT test is up to the MFG of the helmet to make it pass. They are rarely check by the government. Snell was a racer that died from his DOT helmet crushing. Now there is a group called Snell that does crush test on helmets.

The try to crush the helmet in every direction possible. DOT drops the helmet from I think 10 feet, if it doesn't crack it passes.

Check out Rocky Mountain ATV's closeout section. Last years stuff with prices reduced.

Closeouts | Rocky Mountain ATV/MC
So basically I can buy a helmet there and be confident in my purchase?
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Yes, that is where I have got all my helmets. I personally don't like HJC but that doesn't mean they are not safe.
 
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