There are all sorts of different motorcycle helmets to chose from. Not all motorcycle helmets are the same. There are different helmets for different styles and different helmets for different looks. The first thing that people look for when purchasing a motorcycle helmet is the looks. Unfortunatly this is not the way to choose. Helmets nowadays have safety ratings based on how well they can react in an accident.
Lets start off with DOT approval. The Department of Transportation has set a list of guidelines that helmet manufacturers must meet in order for the helmet to be DOT Approved. Helmets not DOT approved are not legal to ride in some states. The DOT standards of approval are not as strict as Snell Approval but still provide motorcycle riders with some guidelines on how to pick a helmet. DOT approved means that the helmet will withstand an impact and protect your head if you should have an accident.
Now to Snell Approval. As head injuries account for the majority of serious motorcycle injuries, you know head protection is critically important. Yet, as you try to select from among the many brands of motorcycle helmets available, you may find the claims confusing. It's easy enough to choose between colors and styles, but the real purpose of a helmet is to protect your head in an accident. The best helmet may not guarantee survival in all accident situations, but on the basis of ongoing research done by the Snell Memorial foundation since 1957, a Snell certified helmet is indisputably better in severe impact conditions than one not meeting this standard. In fact, Snell requirements are among the most stringent in the world - much more stringent than the legal D.O.T. standards.
To receive Snell certification, helmets are tested in four performance areas; Energy Management, Environmental Resistance, Retention System, and Quality Control. In Other words, Snell tests the helmet's ability to shrug off all of the things likely to happen to it prior to and during an actual crash. Snell constantly selects examples - at random in the marketplace - of certified helmets to test for compliance with the Standard. On the other hand, helmets meeting only the minimum D.O.T. requirements can be self-certified by the manufacturer, with possibly no outside testing, which can lead to wide discrepancies in performances.
Think about it, if you're going to wear a helmet at all doesn't it make sense to wear one that meets the best standards available - SNELL.
SNELL M2000 - 2000 Standards for Motorcycle Protective Headgear
There are four reasons for you to be interested in this standard:
. The use of motorcycles and other motorized vehicles imposes risks of death or permanent impairment du to head injury.
. The proper use of protective helmets can minimize the risk of death or permanent impairment.
. The protective capacity of a helmet is difficult to measure, particularly at the time of purchase or use.
Four of the MOST Critical Elements that SNELL Test for:
. 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 to hold the helmet throughout a head impact.
. Extent of Protection - The area of the head protected by the helmet.
In order to continuously monitor the quality of helmets being sold to the public, Snell purchases and tests samples of currently certified helmets from the marketplace. These helmets are tested only in Snell labs by Snell technicians. Should a currently certified helmet fail, the helmet manufacturer must take corrective action to Snell's satisfaction.