How Safe Are DOT Approved Helmets?
Awesome riding gear is one of the many things that makes riding motorcycles so exciting. Riders also know that safety is paramount to being able to enjoy the thrill of riding for as long as possible. This is why there is no substitute to good motorcycle helmets. With the numerous safety certifications available in the market, it can be confusing to know what works best for you.
One of the most common authorized ratings is the DOT by the Department of Transportation. According to the Department of Transportation, DOT approved helmets prevents fatalities in the event of a crash. So do you need to buy a DOT approved helmet? To begin with DOT helmets undergo rigorous tests and must meet the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 218.
Some riders are wary of helmets obstructing their vision and hearing while riding but many studies have proven that this is not the case. DOT approved helmets are your best bet when it comes to being prepared for the road. Here are some things that DOT helmets are tested for –
Impact – A good helmet has to be able to absorb the majority of shock that is caused by a crash so that your head doesn’t have to deal with it. Shock can cause extensive damage to the head resulting in fatal brain injuries just from impact and DOT helmets are known to be good at shock absorbent. Recent studies have also shown that absorbing shock is more effective that resisting it in the event of a crash.
- During tests for DOT certification, peak acceleration must not exceed 400g
- Any acceleration exceeding 200g must not exceed a cumulative duration of 2ms
- Any acceleration exceeding 150g should be within a cumulative duration of 4ms
Retention – A helmet is only as good as its ability to stay put. Retention tests the durability and reliability of the chin strap on a helmet. Its ability to remain fastened and keep the helmet is a life saving in trauma and this extremely essential to know.
Penetration – A crash entails a lot of possibilities and being struck with a sharp object is one of them. The helmet’s capacity to withstand being pierced with something sharp is another factor that is relevant to safety while riding.
Vision – Federal law require a helmet’s visibility to be no less than 105 degrees on either sides. DOT approved helmets ensure that your visibility remains unaffected by the many layers and fittings required for safety.
Labeling – Every DOT certified helmet that passes certification test must carry a clear label with the manufacturer’s name, model name and number, size, date of manufacture and the most recent DOT logo as approved by the NHTSA.
The helmets are also cleared for projections which require that the inside of the helmet must be uniform and not have any projections which may form pressure points during crashes. Any projections for accessories must be on the outside of the helmet and not be more than 5mm in height.
DOT and other certification tests involve dropping a helmet with a dummy head fitted with sensors multiple times against anvils of various shapes and sizes. The tests check for g force traumas and the amount of blows a helmet can withstand. DOT is required certification for helmets by the NHSA or National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the NHTSA.
How is a DOT helmet approved?
The NHTSA doesn’t require manufacturers to send them helmet samples for certification. Instead manufacturers must self test helmets for the bare minimum parameters that DOT requires and use the authorization to mark them DOT approved. The NHTSA then may send in samples of the helmets to an independent lab to check for compliance. Heavy fines could be levied on manufacturers not meeting the standards but still use the authorization.
The ideal helmet components
Different helmets have different features depending on their usage and manufacturer. However there are a few components that are essential for a safe motorcycle helmet. Here’s what to look for when you shop for DOT approved helmets.
- Chinstraps – A robust chinstrap with solid rivets is what you will want to be looking for. It ensures the helmet stays put to be able to bear and disperse any impact and do its job.
- Inner lining – DOT approved helmets are required to have inner liners at least 1 inch in thickness and made of polystyrene foam. This is one of the most important components to keep you safe in the event of trauma. Check with your fingers for the padding underneath the shell. You will not be able to see the lining in all its glory but you should be able to feel it. Unsafe novelty helmets usually have foam lining or no lining at all but the difference is clear between a cheap foam lining and a well padded shell.
- Helmet weight – DOT approved helmets have different shapes and sizes but they also differ in weight to be able to provide the right fit for different individuals. However, ideally a safe helmet will weight a lot more than an unsafe or novelty helmet. You should be able to get a solid sturdy feel of the construction of the helmet. DOT approved helmets usually weigh around 3 pounds and will feel that way.
- Helmet design – DOT approved motorcycle helmets have features that make them easy to recognize as authentic. For starters, the shell of the helmet will not have any accessories or fittings protruding outwards. DOT certification bars any fastenings more than two tenths of an inch in length.
In addition to a clear label certifying the helmet as DOT approved, look for other labels on the lining displaying other criteria and certification the helmet meets. Although many helmets may carry a fake certification label, these pointers will usually help you identify an actual DOT motorcycle helmet from a fake one.
Riding is a stimulating way to free your mind and when done with the proper gear like motorcycle helmets approved by DOT, it makes it a thrilling to ride away your motorcycle into the sunset.
Ride safe. Shop for our DOT Approved Helmets.