If you've ever looked at the back of your helmet (and let's be honest, who hasn't?), you've probably noticed a bunch of different stickers. These stickers represent different certifications:

DOT: Standards established by the US Department of Transportation. The current DOT rating is federal standard FMVSS 218, and any helmet with a DOT sticker must meet certain requirements.

ECE: Standards set by the Economic Commission for Europe. This multinational standard is used by more than 50 countries in Europe and any helmet with this sticker must meet the current ECE 22.05 standard.

SNELL: Standards established by the Snell Memorial Foundation. This is a voluntary test procedure and is only required by certain racing bodies. The current standard is SNELL M2015 for street helmets and SA2015 for racing helmets.



• High energy test program, uses the hemispherical anvil and two strikes per area.

• The technician is allowed to hit the helmet anywhere within a large coverage area

• Reasonable maximum allowable energy transfer of 400g.


• The “Honor System” of random testing is ineffective and many DOT labeled helmets fail the standard.

• The limited number of heads used.

• Tests not related to impact energy management are somewhat lacking: there is no testing of optics, removability, abrasion resistance and many other important factors.

ECE 22.05


• Standards are actively and thoroughly tested on all helmets sold with ECE certification

• Very low maximum permissible energy (only 275 g).

• Extensive testing for a variety of security-related features.

• Eight head dummies for a wider range of test variables


• Curbstone anvil and each impact equals a very low energy test, no doubt too low for the higher speeds in the United States

• Fixed helmet impact positions make it possible to cheat the impact test.

• Head variety can mean the center of gravity shifts during testing, reducing impact energy in testing by up to 20%.



• Standards are actively and thoroughly tested on all helmets sold with SNELL certification.

• Very low maximum permissible energy (only 275 g).

• Tests for stability, removability, face shielding.

• The anvil is tested with intense energy, extreme impact.

• Technicians look for weak points in the helmet, ensuring as thorough a test as possible.


• The higher cost of private SNELL testing is often reflected in the higher retail price of SNELL certified helmets

• The racing oriented nature of the SNELL may exclude helmets with useful features (internal sun shield, modular helmets).



• Helmets are tested using both high and low speed/impact impacts than any other testing program.

• Extensive crash testing.

• Five impact points per helmet.

• “Post-impact helmet autopsy” used to identify potential weak points.

• Grading systems offer consumers more than a simple “pass / fail”.


• Controversy over the effectiveness of "star" rating systems.

• Tests are designed around European crash data and do not take into account the energy levels and conditions of American standards.

• Square and flat anions simulate lower energy levels than DOT and SNELL.

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