Many agencies are responsible for approving the safety and quality standard of helmets; however, only one has accreditation worldwide. This authority is DOT (The Department of Transportation). The agency makes rules on the helmets sold to undergo a series of checks and tests.
Currently, DOT helmets are not legal for road use in Australia. The only helmets accepted in Australia are those that met Australian Standard or the European Standard. These helmets get certifications by a privately owned certification services company. While European helmets receive approval from the European government.
DOT, also known as the United States Departments of Transportation, is an organization that sets the helmets standards. For a helmet to receive DOT approval, it must meet the minimum requirements set, standard guidelines, and test criteria. The DOT regulations mostly apply in the United States and Canada. You can tell if a helmet has DOT approval by doing the following checks;
- Helmets have a sticker on the rear of the helmet with the ‘DOT’ letters. Though sticker alone doesn’t guarantee DOT certification as counterfeit stickers are common, you should examine more.
- Feel the helmet interior for a thick liner. Feel the thickness by moving the hand around the interior of the helmet. Non-DOT helmets have a thin sheet of foam acting as the inner liner.
- DOT certified have tough, sturdy chinstraps that don’t break or become loose while riding.
- A DOT certifies helmet weighs about 3 pounds while fake ones weigh one pound or less.
- DOT helmets don’t have any spike protruding more than 1/5th of an inch from the surface.
In Australia, there are two standards AS 1698-1988 and AS/NZS 1698:2006. Helmets must have a sticker indicating what standard they meet. You can find the label in the helmet’s crown liner for Australia or chinstrap for European Standard. Some may also have a sticker on the outer surface. The regulations also indicate that no attachment should be on the helmet except those recommended by the manufacturer.
Are Dot Approved Helmets Safe?
Though safer than no helmet at all, a DOT helmet is comparatively inferior in the event of a crash as compared to Snell. DOT certifications tests are not rigorous and sometimes criticized as it works on the honor system. A helmet might be tested and lose certification while already in the market, posing a risk to the users. Even though there are penalties for the manufacturers who fail to build a quality helmet, DOTS helmets are unsafe. Ensure before purchasing one; you examine it for quality.
Do DOT Approved Helmets Expire?
Dots helmets have an expiry date. It will help if you replace yours no matter its condition after seven years from production date and after five years of use. Check whether yours has expired; inside, you will find a stamped date.
A helmet that meets either Australian or European standards is legal to use on roads. Therefore, it’s wise to use a certified helmet for your safety and avoid collision with the authorities. Ensure you cross-examine a helmet before buying it to make sure it’s safe for use.