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You might have heard a version of this saying: “A $50 helmet belongs on a $50 head.”

Buying a cheap helmet or a novelty helmet with no documented certification could leave you on the bad side of what could have been a not-so-bad accident. There are three known certifications for helmets on the market today. I’ve listed them here as well as their meanings to help you find the right protection for you and your family.

DOT: This is the most common certification on many North American helmets and it represents the Department of Transportation’s Standard of FMVSS 218. FMVSS stands for the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard #218, which is a set of guidelines for On-Road use helmets in the USA. In order for a helmet manufacturer to be able to legally attach the DOT logo to their helmet, they must self-test the helmet by sending each and every version of the helmet they sell to a certified testing facility.

SNELL: Representing the Snell Memorial Foundation M2010 helmet standard, this is a non-profit organization that was formed in 1957. Dedicated to the continuing improvement and overall helmet safety, SNELL steps out to help helmet manufacturers in the actual prototype testing of their products for the market. If the manufacturer’s helmet passes the testing according to SNELL M2010, it can then label the helmet SNELL certified. These same developmental build qualities must remain unaltered during production to retain certification. The testing is very similar in nature to the DOT testing with little variation.

ECE 22.05: ECE stands for “Economic Commission for Europe.” This standard was created in a United Nations agreement in 1958 and is accepted in 47 countries. The 22.05 numerical designations make’s reference to the specific regulation that the standards for testing are described in. The ECE system also requires batch sampling when production begins where the DOT does not.

Remember to search out these certifications when buying your helmet. Make sure the helmet fits squarely on your head and that it is comfortable. Your helmet is your lifeline and it’s a product you need to review carefully before buying.

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