Last Updated: 5/11/2023

Person in black riding motorcycle wearing a black helmet and jacketIf you’re a motorcyclist in Iowa, purchasing a helmet that fits well and is certified to protect your head in the event of a motorcycle accident is one of the most important safety precautions that you can take.  When helmet shopping, you will notice that helmets are certified by two different entities, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Snell Memorial Foundation. 

The Difference Between DOT and Snell Certification

A helmet certified by either one of these two entities is considered a safe and sound choice for motorcyclists.  The standard that the DOT uses to certify helmets is the minimum standard, and is defined by Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 218. While this standard is perfectly sufficient, the Snell standards are much more demanding and are based on extensive impact testing. Although all Snell-certified helmets meet DOT standards, not all DOT-certified helmets meet the Snell standards.

Snell Memorial Foundation’s Motorcycle Helmet Standards

According to the Snell Memorial Foundation’s website, the organization—which is a non-profit organization with the primary purpose of testing and developing standards for safe helmets—considers its standards “the world’s toughest.” The site also states that it “demands quite a bit more protective capability in helmets than anybody else on the planet.”

The four major components the Snell Memorial Foundation assesses when certifying a helmet are the following:

  1. Impact management
  2. Helmet positional stability
  3. Retention system strength
  4. Extent of protection

    Two motorcycle helmets laying in a bush

Which Should I Choose: Snell or DOT?

Both Snell-certified and DOT-certified helmets are good choices for motorcyclists. However, if you want extra assurance that your head will be protected, a Snell-certified helmet may be the better option. Always make sure that you try your helmet on before purchasing. Purchasing a helmet that doesn’t fit properly would be like putting on a seat belt in a car that doesn't fit tightly across your body. Replace a motorcycle helmet after any accident.

What Do I Do If I’m In an Accident?

If you’re in a motorcycle accident and you’re not wearing a helmet, you are still eligible to recover damages, assuming that the accident and your injuries were not attributable to your own negligence.

To help you understand things like fault, negligence, and how not wearing a helmet may affect your claim, check out our motorcycle accidents blog. You can also request our free book, Iowa Consumer's Guide To Motorcycle Crashes: 9 Insider's Secrets To Keep Your Case On 2 Wheels.  To learn more about the law relating to motorcycle accidents in Iowa, call the attorneys at Walker, Billingsley & Bair at (888) 435-9886  contact us online today.

Corey Walker
Connect with me
With over 28 years legal experience, Corey has been recognized for his work as an injury attorney.