How to spot unsafe motorcycle helmets

Helmets are one of the most important pieces of safety equipment for motorcycle riders. However, not all helmets meet established safety standards.

Before you hit the road, it is important to know how to spot an unsafe motorcycle helmet.

Safety issues to check for

The Department of Transportation sets safety standards for all motorcycle helmets. A good place to start is to familiarize yourself with these safety rules.

Helmets that meet DOT safety standards usually weigh about three pounds. Many unsafe helmets weigh less than a pound. These lightweight helmets may feel more comfortable to riders, but do not provide adequate safety protection.

Safe helmets are usually lined with expanded polystyrene that is a minimum of 3/4-inch thick. You may not be able to see the inner lining, but you should be able to feel how thick it is. Helmets with thin or soft linings or no lining at all are not safe.

To meet DOT standards, helmets must have sturdy chin straps attached to the helmet with solid rivets. This helps prevent the helmet from coming off.

Helmet labeling

Helmets that meet DOT standards will have certification labels on the back of the helmet. Additionally, manufacturers must include a label on the inside of the helmet that states the manufacturer’s name, month and year of manufacture, size, construction materials and warnings. Most unsafe helmets do not include these labels. Watch out for counterfeit certification labels.

An unsafe motorcycle helmet may provide little more protection than no helmet at all. If your helmet doesn’t meet these safety standards, consider replacing it with one that does.