Nutcase motorcycle helmets

Novelty helmets may be attractive and fun but they are not a safe choice.

Tougher motorcycle helmet labeling requirements are on the way – but not until 2013.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has published the final new rule for helmets sold in the U.S.

You can read the new rule here.

While most of the rule changes apply to the inside of the helmet, one very import change will be coming to the outside.   The new certification label will have the manufacturer’s name and helmet model and the words “DOT FMVSS No. 218 Certified”.

The new regulation aims to reduce the availability of novelty helmets posing as DOT approved helmets by making it more difficult to counterfeit the “DOT” label markings.  Helmets that meet DOT standards bear a sticker indicating they meet the current Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 218, first published in 1973.

As with many rule changes, the law means well, but will create more problems than it solves when it comes time for enforcement.  The new rule does not take effect until May 13, 2013, which means that there will be two more years worth of helmets in circulation with the old labels.  With all these old helmets on people’s heads for years to come, the counterfeiters will be able to continue selling the old DOT stickers for the foreseeable future.

Now for the legal mumbo jumbo.  From the Federal Register announcement: “Specifically, this final rule sets a quasi-static load application rate for the helmet retention system; revises the impact attenuation test by specifying test velocity and tolerance limits and removing the drop height test specification; provides tolerances for the helmet conditioning specifications and drop assembly weights; and revises requirements related to size labeling and location of the DOT symbol.”  What does it mean?  The new helmets will be safer, and have a new sticker.

The NHTSA says 5.2 million helmets are sold each year in the U.S. and 54 percent of motorcyclists in 2010 wore a DOT or FMVSS No. 218-compliant helmet. Fourteen percent wore novelty helmets and 32 percent of riders wore no helmet, the NHTSA said.

“These figures represent a significant reduction in FMVSS No. 218-compliant helmet use compared to 2009, when the comparable figures were 67 percent, 9 percent and 24 percent,” according to “Motorcycle Helmet Use in 2010–Overall Results.”

If you’re not riding in a government-approved helmet, you are taking an unnecessary risk.  But you already know that.  Please consider one of the new, safer helmets when they become available.

Thanks for reading.


ZiffLaw Attorney, Esq.
NY and PA Injury and Accident Attorney
The Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William Street
Elmira, NY 14901
Phone: (607)733-8866
Fax: (607)732-6062