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What do the safety labels on motorcycle helmets actually mean?

You may have never paid any attention to the labels on the inside of your helmet. But you should be aware that there are many different kinds of motorcycle helmet labels, each with a different meaning. For example, you should take a moment and check inside your helmet to see if it has a:

  • DOT sticker. A DOT-approved helmet will have an emblem stating that it meets the minimum safety requirements of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). This sticker is only allowed to be posted on helmets that meet the federal motor vehicle safety standard for motorcycle helmet use, also known as FMVSS 218. These labels are usually placed on the outside back of the helmet, but can also be found on the inside of certain models.
  • Snell or ANSI sticker. There are several non-profit organizations, including Snell and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), that perform independent testing on motorcycle helmets. If a helmet passes testing by one of these groups, a label is pasted inside the helmet. Helmets approved by ANSI and Snell typically also meet the Federal safety standard.
  • Manufacturer’s safety label. Under FMVSS 218, makers of safety helmets are required to label the inside of the helmet with the company’s name, month and year of manufacture, construction materials used, and the size and model of the helmet. Helmets without these labels usually are not compliant with federal safety standards.

Is There an Easy Way to Remember Which Helmets are Safest?

If you cannot remember all of the different requirements, there is a shortcut. The easiest thing to do is to familiarize yourself with certain brands and helmet designs that are known to be compliant with DOT requirements and stay faithful to those with the highest ratings. For more tips on getting the most out of your daily rides, download a free copy of The KC Biker Bible today!

James Roswold
James Roswold is a Kansas & Missouri personal injury, workers comp, and medical malpractice attorney.

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