What constitutes a DOT-compliant helmet for an ATV?

Purchasing a helmet is an important safety investment. Understanding the standards that make an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) helmet DOT-compliant will help you make an informed selection or will help you determine whether the helmet you already use is DOT-approved.

The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) oversees and regulates many areas of transportation safety. It has conducted testing on helmets to ensure that they meet the minimum requirements for rider protection. Since the mid-1970s, motorcycle helmets are required to meet DOT standards.

While the DOT establishes the safety criteria for compliance, manufacturers are responsible for meeting those safety standards. The DOT even conducts random testing on helmets entered into the marketplace with the DOT-compliant sticker applied to them.

Testing Elements for DOT Compliance

Testing helmets to ensure a DOT-compliant helmet is comprised of the following elements.

  • Impact Attenuation: This is a test that measures the amount of impact energy the helmet can absorb (and therefore protect your head) in the event of a crash. DOT-approved helmets are held to a standard of protection that other novelty helmets may not meet.
  • Penetration: This test involves testing the helmet to ensure it can protect the head from a sharp object that might otherwise penetrate the helmet and the rider’s skull.
  • Retention: The helmet’s retention system includes the chinstrap and accompanying D-rings that hold the helmet on your head. This test ensures that this system of straps and rings will keep the helmet on your head during an impact.
  • Peripheral vision: This requires ensuring the helmet does not obscure the rider’s view. There must be a minimum of 105 degrees side vision on both sides of the helmet.

How do I know if I have a DOT-compliant helmet?

A DOT-compliant helmet will have a DOT sticker located on it. However, always exercise caution when selecting a helmet. Some of the qualities of a DOT helmet include the following.

Looking for these elements will help ensure you are purchasing a quality, DOT-compliant helmet.

  • Weight: Heavier helmets are more likely to meet the standards of FMVSS 218, or DOT regulations. If your helmet weighs less than one pound, it is probably not compliant and will not adequately protect your head in a crash.
  • Inner Liner: Approximately one inch of polystyrene foam is the standard inner lining required for safety by the DOT. Even if you can’t see the foam because it is covered by a liner, you should be able to feel its thickness. Novelty helmets or helmets that do not comply with DOT standards may have a thin fabric liner, soft padding or no padding at all.
  • Chin Straps and D-Rings: Feel the chin straps and rings and pull on them. They should feel solid and held in place. Flimsy straps or wiggly rings can be a sign that the helmet is not DOT-compliant.
  • Design: Novelty helmets may be appealing, but they are not necessarily safe or compliant with DOT safety regulations. Keep in mind that DOT standards do not permit any attachments to the helmet that protrude more than two-tenths of an inch from the helmet’s surface. If you see a helmet with a large spike, horns or other decorative items, it is not going to meet DOT requirements.

If You’ve Been in an ATV Accident, Call Cordisco & Saile LLC

If you have been in an ATV accident, Cordisco & Saile LLC can help. We can evaluate your case and damages, which may be partly dependant on whether you were wearing a DOT-compliant helmet. If you suffered head injuries and were not wearing a helmet, it might negatively affect the damages you may recover. Call us today at 215-642-2335 to set up a free consultation.