Helmet Certification: Prevailing Norms & Differences

  • Author :
  • TATA AIG Team
  • Published on :
  • 26/09/2023

The rising number of road accidents in the country indicates the need to ensure a greater focus on safety while riding.

Some easy ways riders can do this is by following safety laws such as driving within the speed limits, following the road rules, ensuring routine maintenance of the vehicle, always wearing safety gear and certified helmets, and investing in two-wheeler insurance. However, it is common to see riders ignore all these aspects, making themselves vulnerable on the roads.

When you wear a helmet, your chances of incurring a serious brain injury and, in extreme cases, death owing to a collision or fall can be lowered. This is because the helmet absorbs the energy of the impact as opposed to your head and brain.

However, it is important to ensure that your helmet is equipped to protect you adequately in the event of an accident. Here is where bike helmet certification comes in. Let’s understand what helmet certification in India entails.

What is Motorcycle Helmet Certification?

Helmet certification standards are tests designed to ensure that a helmet clears at least the minimum safety requirements. The tests to check the helmet's strength and quality are essentially concerned with energy and its subsequent impact.

Suppose a crash results in the energy being transferred to the head of the rider; the impact could be severe. Impact absorption is, therefore, a crucial factor when it comes to determining the safety of the helmet.

Other factors include visibility through the face shield, chin strap retention, penetration protection, and more.

The helmet certification in India is regulated and governed by the Bureau of Indian Standards, which was revised in 2015 and is now referred to as IS 4151:2015. In addition to this, there are also global standards for helmet certification, including by the Department of Transportation (DOT) considered by the U.S. and the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE).

While helmets in the U.S. have to meet the DOT helmet certification standards, European riders have to wear an ECE-certified helmet. The ECE helmet certification is recognised by more than 50 countries and is also considered by most racing organisations.

The safety standards employed for motorcycle helmet certification vary from one authorising organisation to the next. Let’s take a look at the different kinds of certifications for helmets and determine which is the best helmet certification.

It is also important to note that helmets are one aspect of safety, but to ensure wholesome protection, riders must invest in comprehensive insurance for two-wheeler.

Types of Helmet Certification Standards

Every safety standard for helmets undertakes different tests, requirements, and procedures before they provide their certification.

Here are the prominent certifications to bear in mind:

Department of Transportation (DOT) Certification

The DOT bike helmet certification is a basic but thorough testing procedure. Before getting the DOT certification, helmets must endure several tests about the field of vision, helmet retention system, penetration resistance, and labelling. DOT certification is the only standard not carried out by the issuing body but by individual contractors.

For the DOT impact test, the helmet is dropped on two different surfaces from a pre-determined height simulating a crash scenario. In addition to this, the helmet is also tested to check peripheral vision and penetration. Finally, the strap test is done to ensure that the helmet is secured in place in the event of a high-impact incident.

Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) Certification

This is a multinational standard test for helmets that are considered by most European nations. The ECE certification is considered to be more comprehensive than DOT and is widely regarded as highly protective.

In addition to testing the safety features, the tests employed by this certification are also directed at avoiding an accident altogether. The ECE tests the helmet for the optical quality of face shields that have been approved, the rigidity of the shell, resistance to abrasions, and the hold of the chin strap. A DOT-certified helmet would also pass the ECE certification and the other way around, regardless of their varied testing methods and norms.

Indian Standards Institution (ISI) Certification

First enforced and released in 1993, ISI helmets are a set of safety tests that are curated to align with the ECE standards. Since then, however, the testing has become a lot less stringent, with the regulators justifying that the lowered levels are more relevant for Indian roads. This is because the speed limits in place are a lot lower as compared to American and European roads.

The primary challenge that the regulator is trying to resolve concerns the adoption of helmets while including terms of distribution and pricing. Several Indian states have outlined that selling a non-ISI-certified helmet is a criminal offence.

SNELL Certification

This helmet certification is designed by the Snell Memorial Foundation and is largely considered to be the best helmet certification in terms of safety. This non-profit organisation was founded to advance and promote helmet safety following the tragic death of the race car driver Pete Snell.

Going beyond the regular standard for excellent protection, the Snell certification checks a helmet based on the following four parameters:

Impact Management: This aspect tests how well the helmet fares through collision with large objects

Positional Stability: This checks whether the helmet would be secured in place at the time of an accident

Retention System Strength: This factor determines the strength of the chin straps to securely hold the helmet in the event of an accident

The Extent of Protection: This checks for how much of the head is protected during the impact

In addition to being aware of the common helmet certification standards, it is important to know how to choose the right helmet for you.

Factors for Choosing the Right Helmet

Here are the things that riders must consider before they buy their helmet:

  • Analyse your safety requirement appropriately to know which kind of helmet you would need. The safety aspects would differ for riders who need a helmet for regular commutes as opposed to those who need it for off-roading.

  • Ensure that the helmet snugly and comfortably fits your head. If the helmet does not fit properly or does not offer sufficient cushioning, it will only give you a false sense of security without providing you with the protection that you need.

  • Understand that a helmet is not forever. Depending on the kind of helmet you buy it may be designed to endure a single impact or multiple impacts. And so, even if there aren’t any visible signs of damage or deformation, it is important to change your helmet promptly.

  • For complete safety, riders must invest in comprehensive two-wheeler insurance. With comprehensive insurance for two-wheelers, the rider is offered a financial safety net in case of an unfortunate event. Insurance providers also have several options for customisation of two-wheeler insurance for appropriate protection.

The Bottom Line

Just like helmet insurance for two-wheeler secures riders on roads. However, before investing in either of this safety equipment, individuals are advised to undertake appropriate research. Buy a good quality helmet that is properly certified and invest in a reliable bike insurance policy after analysing your insurance needs. You can even check how much your bike insurance would cost you by using the free bike insurance calculator available online.

The comprehensive two-wheeler insurance by Tata AIG offers financial protection against accidents, natural and man-made disasters, as well as any liability to third-party.

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