Motorcycle Helmet Safety

motorcycle helmet safety

Ready to hit the Kansas City roads on two wheels? Whether you are a new rider, a seasoned one or a “re-entry” rider, we want to help you enjoy time on your motorcycle.

One of the best pieces of advice we can give you is to always wear your helmet (you and your passenger) as you hit the roadways. Why? A helmet is the best protection for your head should an accident occur.

  • According to 2017 Traffic Safety Facts, 7.1% of motorcyclists did not use DOT-Compliant helmets and 27.7% wore no helmet at all.
  • In 2017, 1,908 motorcyclists who died were not wearing a helmet. Helmets are estimated to be 37% effective in preventing fatal injuries.

The Right Helmet is a DOT-Compliant Helmet

When choosing a motorcycle helmet, make sure it is DOT-Compliant, that it meets the US Department of Transportation (DOT) Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 218. This is a minimum standard of protection.

You should find a DOT symbol on the outside back of the helmet, which is how you know it meets the DOT standard required by law. ANSI or Snell labels are voluntary indicators of helmet quality.

66.2% of motorcyclists use DOT-compliant helmets (2017 data, NHTSA). Share on X

Choosing the Right Helmet

This video from the NHTSA is a great visual on the types of helmets, how to choose the right helmet for you and lots of safety tips.

  • Do not buy a used helmet; it can be difficult to tell if it has sustained any damage.
  • According to the Snell Memorial Foundation, you may also want to replace your helmet if it is more than five years old, as helmets degrade over time

Identifying Safe Motorcycle Helmets

  • Helmets meeting FMVSS 218 requirements weigh around three pounds, have a thick polystyrene-foam lining and sturdy chinstraps.
  • A full-coverage helmet typically is a good sign that the helmet meets DOT certification.
  • Look for a DOT symbol or label on the outside back of the helmet.
  • Other valid safety certifications include Snell or the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standards.
  • A certified helmet will have a permanent inside label identifying the manufacturer, model number and information about the care and use of the helmet.

Motorcycle Helmet Laws

At this time, 19 states and the District of Columbia have laws requiring all riders to wear a helmet (both operators and passengers). 28 states have laws requiring only some motorcyclists to wear a helmet and there is no motorcycle helmet use law in Illinois, Iowa and New Hampshire.

Best practice is to wear a helmet whether it is required by your state or not. It could save your life should you be in an accident.


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