NHTSA Revises DOT Motorcycle Helmet Regulations

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has recently announced an update for the DOT regulations covering motorcycle helmets, as recent tests for new helmets have found that they failed all or almost all of the safety performance requirements in the FMVSS No. 218 standard.

This means that helmet manufacturers will now have to comply to the new standard, so the new certification label will bear the manufacturer's name and helmet model and the words "DOT FMVSS No. 218 Certified."

The decision to revise the standard was taken following the increase in injuries and fatalities among motorcyclists for 11 consecutive years, and wearing a helmet significantly reduces the risk of dying in a motorcycle crash. FMVSS No. 218 includes energy attenuation, penetration resistance, chin strap structural integrity, and labeling requirements for on-road motorcycle helmets.

According to the NHTSA, 5.2 million helmets are sold annually. In 2010, 54 percent of motorcyclists wore a FMVSS No. 218-compliant helmet, 14 percent wore novelty helmets, and 32 percent did not wear a helmet.

“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,”
the agency was quoted by “This reduction in FMVSS No. 218-compliant helmet use is especially significant in the jurisdictions (20 States and the District of Columbia) with universal helmet use laws where the use of compliant helmets dropped from 86 percent in 2009 to 76 percent in 2010 and the use of novelty helmets increased from 11 percent in 2009 to 22 percent in 2010. This 11 percentage point increase in novelty helmet use in jurisdictions with universal helmet use laws between 2009 and 2010 is evidence of the difficulty encountered by law enforcement officials in enforcing helmet use laws.”
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