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Thursday, May 28, 2015

U.S. Transportation Regulators To Crack Down On Novelty Motorcycle Helmets

 U.S. transportation regulators on Wednesday called for stronger rules for motorcycle helmets, proposing additional safety requirements in an effort to crack down on “novelty” helmets that do not meet federal standards. The Department of Transportation said such uncertified helmets are unsafe and do not protect riders in crashes despite being sold and marketed for use on the road.

Its proposal would further define what makes an acceptable motorcycle helmet, from its thickness to its compression ability, in an attempt to help riders and state law enforcement officials identify inferior helmets. Such proposed changes aim “to reduce fatalities and injuries resulting from traffic accidents involving use of motorcycle helmets” that fail to meet federal standards, Department of Transportation regulators said.
Deaths stemming from motorcycle crashes are disproportionately high, they said, in part due to the high number of motorcyclists wearing substandard helmets. Novelty helmets generally cover a smaller area of the head, have thin liners and lack the ability to absorb the force of a crash, the department said.
They are often sold with disclaimers stating that they are not for highway use “yet they are sold to highway users and used in great numbers by motorcyclists,” the regulators said.
2HelmetIt is not clear why so many riders use inferior helmets, but part of the problem seems to be that riders do not understand the risks, the regulators said. Novelty helmets can also be cheaper and appear “more comfortable or stylish,” they added.
Tougher standards are expected to help authorities prosecute sellers of noncompliant helmets in states where helmets are mandatory, regulators said.
The public can comment on the proposal for 60 days before the department moves to issue its final regulation.

The answer. NHTSA does not test helmets against the DOT standards before they can claim DOT certification; rather, each helmet manufacturer marketing their helmets for road use in the U.S. must test and self-certify the models they want to sell and then permanently affix the “DOT” emblem signifying compliance with FMVSS 218. NHTSA enforces the standard by acquiring random samples of the product and sending them to an independent testing lab to verify compliance. Penalties to manufacturers for marketing non-compliant products can be steep—up to $5,000 per helmet. FMVSS 218 sets standards in three areas of helmet performance: impact attenuation, basically energy absorption; penetration resistance; and finally the retention system effectiveness, and there are new product labeling requirements. The standard also requires peripheral vision to be not less than 105° from the helmet midline. Projections from the surface of the helmet (snaps, rivets, etc.) may not exceed 5 mm. The impact test measures acceleration of a headform inside the helmet when it is dropped from a fixed height onto a spherical and flat surfaced anvil. The standard allows a peak acceleration energy of 400 G (G being “gravity constant” or an acceleration value of ft. per second x seconds). The penetration test involves dropping a piercing test striker onto the helmet from a fixed height. The striker must not penetrate deep enough to contact the headform. The retention system test involves placing the helmet’s retention straps under load in tension. For this test the load is progressive; first a load of 22.7 kg (49.9 lb.) is applied for 30 seconds, then it is increased to 136 kg (299.2 lb.) for 120 seconds, with measurement of the stretch or displacement of a fixed point on the retention strap from the apex of the helmet. Some new standards in FMVSS 218 will go into effect in May 2013. As a result of confusion over the specifications in the test procedures for impact attenuation and the retention system, new test procedures have been put into place. The apparatus for testing a helmet retention system under DOT (FMVSS 218) standards. Those changes won’t be noticeable to the buyer—but one change will be: the DOT label that must appear on the helmet. Under the new standard, the simple “DOT” sticker of old won’t cut it. In an effort to make counterfeit labeling of non-compliant helmets more difficult and legally risky to those who do it, the DOT label displayed on the back of the helmet must now include, in order from top to bottom: The manufacturer’s name Model number or name “DOT” below the manufacturer’s name “FMVSS 218” centered below DOT The word “Certified” below FMVSS 218 For additional information, visit the National Highway Safety Administration. - See more at: