The main aim of dot helmets or any helmet is to safeguard the head of the riders at the time of impact, hence avoiding or lessening injuries at the head and protecting the life of the rider. Certain helmets offer extra features, for instance, face shields, intercom, ear protection, ventilation, etc.
A recent study found out that one can lessen the probability of head injuries by almost 69% by using a helmet and it can also reduce chances of death by 42%. Even though, there was a time when people used to believe that by putting on a bike helmet the chances of spinal and neck injuries in an accident increases, but some recent events have proven that wrong, showing helmets work as a protective shield against injury of the cervical spine.
Proper safety is as important as a good mechanism of the bike. An internally well designed, contemporary bike with safety measures for the riders like traction control and ABS in bikes can serve efficiently in regards to rider’s safety.
However, in certain mishaps like accidents, our safety shields are the sole hurdle amid physical harm. During certain unfortunate incidents such as accidents, helmets cover the most important part of our body, that is our head. Hence helmets are considered as one of the most crucial equipment for safety when it comes to rider protection.
It is very crucial to make sure that helmets which are put for sale in various countries adhere to certain basic safety and quality needs, there exists certain certifications in regards to a technicality which the helmets need to have or carry.
At present, three different standards of safety in helmets are found in the world that is extremely widespread. Out of those three, the U.S. DOT (Department of Transportation) certification is considered to be one of the most famous and recommended. All the helmets in the USA that are used on the streets are required to carry this particular certification.
The standard of DOT or Department of Transportation is limited to the USA. This is put into force and is looked after by the NHTSA or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of the United States of America, however, this certification is extensively accepted all over all the world and is regarded as a token of belief for helmet protection.
The helmets which conform to the standards of DOT must fulfill certain special requirements in regards to quality from the standpoint of manufacturing. It also must go through and pass some specific retention system, penetration, and crash tests.
Those helmets which go through the tests with the motive to get a certification of DOT have to get dropped on different sorts of surfaces, from a certain predetermined culminating point. The G-force that comes as a result of the drop, replicates a scenario of a crash, and the use of certain scientific gadgets estimates its impact.
Testing Of DOT Helmets
In the testing system of DOT helmets, a crash test is done two times on each helmet that is chosen for the testing purpose to imitate various results at the time of a single accident.
Once the crash test gets completed, a test of penetration is performed as well by making use of a solid, sharp material to make sure that pointed things or materials cannot make through or pierce through the helmet shell.
Furthermore, the helmet straps also go through certain tests to prove their toughness and capability to make sure that the helmet stays in its position at the time of an accident.
This test is very crucial because if the helmet slides away or falls from the head at the time of a collision then no matter how strong the shell of the helmet is, it will be useless for the rider as it will cause a potential amount of harm to the rider.
DOT Helmets – Requirements
Those helmets which carry a DOT certificate must also permit an outlying vision 105 degrees or even more from the helmet’s mid-portion. Projections that are more than 5mm on the helmet’s surface are not permitted.
If we specifically discuss the procedure of DOT test, a helmet that is chosen for testing is dropped or released free from a particular height, i.e, 1.83 m, to give rise to a G-force which is equal to 400G, and is crashed on spherical as well as flat anvils.
To test safety from penetration in the helmets, a sharp striker is made to fall upon the helmet to see if it can get inside the shell or pierce it. If any sort of contact occurs between the head foam or any sort of vandalisation occurs to it, then the helmet is disqualified from the test.
A system of confinement puts the straps of the helmets under pressure. The load of 22.7 kg initially is given to the straps which are continued for around thirty seconds. Later it’s expanded and brought to almost 136 kg and kept for around 2 minutes. The system of retention must not go beyond a given limitation to qualify for this test.
A vital feature of the DOT certificate, because of what it is sometimes even denounced, is regarding a notion that any manufacturer of helmets should not be forced to achieve a certificate of DOT from the NHTSA for selling helmets in the market.
This particular system functions based on self-proclaimed certifications of helmets, in which the makers of the helmets perform the testing of their products on their own, and declare those helmets as DOT certified. In this process, they do not let the government agencies interfere in the testing process or scrutinize the helmets.
Then the helmets that are put up in the market for sale are haphazardly chosen and taken away by the NHTSA and for testing to see if they really comply with the standards of DOT.
After the random testing, even if one helmet fails to pass the test then the complete set of the helmets are immediately eliminated and hence their sales stop. For every helmet that is found to be defective, the manufacturer has to pay a high penalty which can be up to 5000 US dollars.
Safety and Reliability level of DOT Helmets
Owing to the high amount of penalty, every authorized helmet manufacturer, makes sure that helmets that they manufacture are correctly tested before their release in the market along with the certification of DOT.
However there comes a problem with this particular process, that is if for instance a seller starts to sell faulty or detective helmets that are not properly tested, along with a certification mark on them then it may cause a great threat to the riders who are wearing those helmets. Those who purchase these helmets, continue to stay unsafe unless the actual flaw is found out and fixed.
DOT helmets are considered to be one of the most common ratings of safety amid all, which is given to bike helmets. A proper cause behind this is the level of standard which is provided by DOT. This safety standard is widely considered as the best one due to its minimum process.
Every manufacturer can qualify for the test very easily, but this is something to actually worry about. Also, it is a very known fact that the DOT performs random tests of random samples only when they go for the inspection of helmets. Hence, it becomes a bit tricky for them to find out which one is actually bad.
But this issue, in no way, indicates that the standards of DOT certification are below the mark or unreliable, as it is already mentioned in this article that the DOT standards has got its own positive points due to its capability of keeping the heads of the riders safeguarded in certain unfortunate events of accidents.
If someone is provided with the option to choose between a helmet that has DOT certification and another helmet that does not have a DOT certification, they must always go for the former one. Because a set of drop tests that includes certain preset conditions are taken into consideration in the safety standards for DOT helmets.
Moreover, the standards DOT also needs a set of perforation tests to scrutinize the entire constructional uprightness of the helmets. Despite the doubts of several motorcycle riders, the DOT stands out in its own field for the quality that it provides and the tough testing that it performs.
Moreover, the effect requirements of the tests of DOT helmets are severely meticulous. Possibly, this is a reason behind the presence of various helmets in the market which does not carry a DOT certification even though they seem quite rigid.
But there is a red flag amid all of these green signals as the DOT helmets do have one potential drawback. The safety tests for DOT helmets are carried out by a third party agency. Certain companies that are independent in nature could be appointed by the manufacturers to check if the helmet designs that are made by them do not carry any fault.
Now to get more contracts in the future you may say that these third-party agencies would surely pass the tests since they are getting paid by the manufacturers. Luckily, to this date, zero such scandals have been found hence ensuring the safety standards of DOT helmets.
ARE DOT HELMETS LEGAL IN INDIA?
The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways in India had declared in 2019 that the manufacturers of helmets shall no more be allowed to make, sell and stock those helmets which do not meet the ISI or Indian Standard Institute safety since 1st January 2019.
This newly updated law has been divided into two parts. The former one is actually very reasonable as the low-cost helmets that are available on the roadsides, which are opted by the majority of the public in India to just keep themselves safe from the hands of police, shall not be available anymore.
These types of helmets do not really provide any sort of safety. Hence with this decision, we can hope for much safer commutes for the riders who use to opt for cheap helmets.
Anyways, the latter part of this law will involve banning of stocking, manufacturing, and selling of those helmets which sticks to the international levels of safety standards, like the American DOT, Japanese JIS, European ECE, and with certain independent testing standards such as Sharp and Snell, that are much of much higher and better standards if compared to ISI.
If the international brands of the helmet will not be legal anymore on the streets of India, then the bikers who had an option to go for a much better standard of safety shall lose the freedom to choose.
The new legal standards of safety in regards to helmets order them to weigh 1.2 kg or even less, which is even lesser than the previous permitted weight, which was 1.5 kg.
However, several well-known helmets that are crafted by famous companies such as AGV, Arai, and Shoei measure more than 1.2 kg, surprisingly these helmets are also considered to be the safest helmets in the world.
Hence, ordering a weight reduction of the helmets of ISI standard might not be a necessary step. To reduce the weight of the helmets, the manufacturers might have to compromise the shell strength.
Further, the Indian manufacturers have yet not been able to actually find a perfect size for the helmets. Though it might sound very surprising, yet a helmet’s size could indeed act as one of its most important characteristics and could largely impact the deal. One size cannot be suitable for varying sizes of heads.
The new law says that the manufacturers of the helmets and the people who are involved in the stocking and the sales of those helmets which does not comply with the standards of ISI, might have to face an arrest, that too without any warrant. The fine for those who are caught for the first time in this offence will have to face up to 2 years of jail or a Rs 2 lakh fine or both.
Putting a ban on DOT and other such helmets that meets the international level of safety is not a good idea. It indicates that these standards are not well enough for India and that is really not true or logical. These sorts of helmets are still in use in popular races such as Isle of Man and MotoGP. These helmets are also approved in some of the world’s most dangerous races such as Isle Of Man TT.
Riders these days have become a lot more cautious in regards to safety standards. This newly introduced law has proven to be deteriorating for the trend which was actually walking towards a very positive or correct direction.
10 Best DOT Helmets in India
Some of the best DOT certified helmets that are currently available in India are mentioned in the given list :
1. Yema YM-915
2. Royal Enfield Street Prime Divider
3. Shiro SH-600
4. SOL Infinity
5. MT revenge cyborg
6. THH Desert Storm Pirate
7. Kranos Viper
8. Royal Enfield Street Prime Mono
9. SOL Illusion
10. SOL SM-1