How to Tell If a Helmet Is DOT Approved

by Chris Miksen

The United States Department of Transportation, or DOT, has set safety standards that motorcycle helmet manufacturers must adhere to and helmets that meet or exceed these standards are known as "DOT certified" helmets. The additional protection a DOT certified helmet offers can help motorcycle riders avoid serious injury or even death in the case of an accident. You can easily distinguish a DOT certified helmet during a quick examination of the helmet.

Look for a "DOT" sticker on the back of the helmet. All helmets that meet the DOT requirements for helmet safety are required to have a "DOT" sticker. This sticker alone does not guarantee the helmet is DOT certified, as counterfeit DOT stickers on nonconforming helmets are common.

Feel the interior of the helmet for a thick inner liner. All DOT certified helmets must have an inner liner about one-inch thick. The inner liner isn't always visible, but you can feel its thickness by moving your hand around the interior of the helmet. Non-DOT certified helmets often have a thin sheet of foam that serves as an inner liner, and some don't contain any liner at all.

Tug the chinstrap to ensure that it's solid and doesn't feel loose or flimsy. All DOT-certified helmets have tough, sturdy chinstraps that won't break or become loose while riding.

Weigh the helmet. Unsafe helmets typically weigh one pound or less, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. A DOT certified helmet typically weighs about three pounds.

Look for any decorations, such as spikes, horns or any other object that protrudes from the helmet. DOT certified helmets are built so that nothing extends further than one-fifth of an inch from the surface of the helmet.

Examine the helmet for a full face shield. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration claims it has yet to see a full face protector on a non-DOT certified helmet.

About the Author

Located in Pittsburgh, Chris Miksen has been writing instructional articles on a wide range of topics for online publications since 2007. He currently owns and operates a vending business. Miksen has written a variety of technical and business articles throughout his writing career. He studied journalism at the Community College of Allegheny County.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera latina rider image by Leticia Wilson from Fotolia.com