Home Add to Favorite Contact Submit  
             26 October, 2020

Category:  Articles » Automotive » Motorcycles


DOT and Snell Motorcycle Helmets: Understanding DOT and Snell Ratings

         Views: 2503
2006-07-05 21:13:56     
Article by Charles Palmer

A number of factors come into play for a rider when considering a new helmet purchase. One factor all riders must consider, and the number one reason to wear a helmet in the first place, remains safety.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2003, when comparing mile for mile, motorcycle riders faced a 32 percent greater likelihood of dying in a wreck compared to drivers in a car. In fact, the simple practice of wearing a helmet can dramatically reduce the number of road fatalities for cycle riders. The NHTSA estimates that between 1984 and 2004, nearly 11,000 motorcyclists would be alive today if they were wearing a helmet while riding.

Snell and Department of Transportation (DOT) ranking remain an industry standard by which customers can judge the safety "effectiveness" of a helmet. But what do the DOT and Snell standards mean for the average rider?

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.

Print article      Bookmark this page
Related Articles 
250cc X31 Gio Pit Bike Review (Popularity: ): Are you looking to get into the pit bike realm? Are you on a budget? You're in the right place because Gio Bikes, a Canada based company, has some awesome deals on pit bikes. While China continues to build mostly worthless pieces of junk, Gio Bikes has been making and selling off-road worthy pit bikes.A 250cc pit bike is the perfect learners bike for a larger kid or an adult ...
The Electric Motor Scooter - Is it the Wave of the Future? (Popularity: ): Living in a small retirement community, buying an electric motor scooter seemed like a logical decision. It seems like several of our neighbors have abandoned the idea of golf carts, in favor of an electric scooter. In fact, I predict the numbers of electric scooters will rise a lot in the next decade, for several good reasons.They Are Part Of The "Green Movement"It seems like almost every day, we see ...
Economy Drive (Popularity: ): Large numbers of people are struggling to make ends meet at the moment, as the economic downturn continues. Opinion varies in regards to how long the recession will continue, but the hardest hit need to use every means possible to save money as it goes on. Drivers often find it hard to keep up with car related costs at the best of times, so the 'Credit Crunch', as it is ...
Custom Chopper Rental In Las Vegas - Wilding Out (Popularity: ): To a first-timer, the city of Vegas is a visual shock of neon lights, gigantic structures, and beautiful people. But there is certainly more to Las Vegas than just the posh hotels, flashy entertainment, and crazy gambling. And one way to experience this is to ride a custom chopper rental through the Las Vegas landscape that lies just beyond the sparkling strip.Custom chopper rental shops are available all over Las ...
Bike Tips: Town Riding (Popularity: ): Three Lanes and an IndicatorThe over-heated city worker has no patience, especially when looking for parking. If you find yourself on either the left or right side of a three-way lane, bare this in mind. Commonly, the driver in front of you will spot an empty parking bay. Not thinking to indicate, he’ll swerve towards it without checking his mirrors.In addition, an oncoming car that’s indicating their intent to turn ...

Related Business 
Snell Isle (Popularity: ): Snell Isle is a community area with multiple of real estate properties. At the front of crescent lake and mirror lake you have everything at your doorstep including fishing, swimming, sun bathing and lot more.
Motorcycle Helmets and Accessories (Popularity: ): Buy Motorcycle helmets, motorcycle jackets, motorcycle apparel and motorcycle parts for Cruisers, Sport Bikes, Touring Bikes and Scooters. Buy Shoei Helmets, HJC Helmets, Arai Helmets and more. Offers replacement parts for all motorcycle helmets, free shipping with minimum purchase and discount pricing available.
Biker Emporium (Popularity: ): Family-run website specializing in leather and textile motorcycle jackets, vests, chaps, DOT helmets and biker accessories.
DOT Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (Popularity: ): US Government Agency that encourages and assists small, women-owned, Native American and disadvantaged businesses to participate in Department of Transportation (DOT), and DOT-assisted, contracts and grants.
T. K. Lee Company (Popularity: ): Custom dot reticles installed in a customer's rifle scope, sized and spaced to customer's specifications, including multiple dot and "mil" dot reticles.
MedReview, Incorporated (Popularity: ): Administrators of DOT and non-DOT substance abuse testing programs.
4 Dot Info (Popularity: ): Offers dot information domain registrations and whois searches.
HelmetStore.net (Popularity: ): A large selection of airbrush, novelty and DOT helmets.
Motorcycle Helmets (Popularity: ): Motorcycle helmets reduce the risk of spine injuries, says a study that challenges a widely held belief that the weight of motorcycle helmets increases the risk of neck injuries.
David Snell's Home Page (Popularity: ): Developer of CAD software.