2010 Helmet Standard For Use in Motorcycling
There are four reasons for you to be interested in this Standard:
1. The use of motorcycles and other motorized vehicles imposes risks of death or permanent impairment due to head injury.
2. The proper use of protective helmets can minimize the risk of death or permanent impairment.
3. The protective capacity of a helmet is difficult to estimate, particularly at the time of purchase or use. Protective capability is currently measured by destructive testing which is beyond the means of most helmet wearers.
4. Snell certification backed by ongoing destructive testing samples taken randomly from dealers and distributors identifies those helmet models providing and maintaining the highest levels of head protection.
Four of the most critical elements affecting a helmet's protective properties are:
1. Impact management - how well the helmet protects against collisions with large objects.
2. Helmet positional stability - whether the helmet will be in place, on the head, when it's needed.
3. Retention system strength - whether the chin straps are sufficiently strong to hold the helmet throughout a head impact.
4. Extent of Protection - the area of the head protected by the helmet.
This Standard describes simple tests for all four of these items. However, the tests for the second item, helmet stability, of necessity presume that the helmet is well matched to the wearer's head and that it has been carefully adjusted to obtain the best fit possible. Unless you take similar care in the selection and fitting of your own helmet, you may not obtain the level of protection that current headgear can provide.
The Foundation recommends the simple, straightforward procedure recommended to consumers by most helmet manufacturers:
Position the helmet on your head so that it sits low on your forehead; if you can't see the edge of the brim at the extreme upper range of your vision, the helmet is probably out of place. Adjust the retention system so that when in use, it will hold the helmet firmly in place. This positioning and adjusting should be repeated to obtain the very best result possible. The procedure initially may be time consuming. Take the time.
Try to remove the helmet without undoing the retention system closures. If the helmet comes off or shifts over your eyes, readjust and try again. If no adjustment seems to work, this helmet is not for you; try another.
This procedure is also the basis of the test for helmet stability described in this Standard. This test performs the same steps but uses standard head forms. However, you must still perform this procedure for yourself when buying a helmet and every time you wear a helmet. Only in this way will you be able to make all the proper adjustments to get the best fit possible. Furthermore, your test on your own head will be an improvement on ours; you will determine whether the helmet is appropriate for you personally.
There are several other important aspects of helmets to consider. Full face helmets provide a measure of protection from facial injuries. The external shell of these helmets includes a rigid "chin" guard that passes from left to right over the lower part of the face. The Foundation has devised special tests for the chin bars of full face helmets.
Some helmets come with a separate structure which bolts to the helmet and which is intended to cover the lower part of the face. These removable chin bars are often intended to deflect small stones and debris encountered in some motorcycle sports and may not be effective facial protection in falls and accidents. The Foundation does not test removable chin bars and considers any headgear equipped with them to be an open face helmet.
Helmets may also be equipped with a chin or full face guard that pivots or flips up for the rider’s convenience. These structures are considered as integral parts of the helmet and helmets equipped with them are considered full face helmets and are required to meet all of the test criteria for full face helmets. These flip up face guards must always be used in their locked position, or in accordance with the instructions from the manufacturer. Misuse of these fixtures may diminish the overall protective capabilities of the helmet.
If a full face helmet is equipped with a face shield, it may also provide a measure of eye protection. The Foundation tests the face shields of full face helmets for particle penetration resistance. Face shields provided with open face helmets generally do not provide the same levels of eye protection and, for that reason are not considered.
The shells of both open and full face helmets should also provide a measure of protection from penetration. The Foundation tests the shells of both full and open face helmets for penetration resistance.
Effective headgear must be removable. Paramedics and other emergency personnel must be able to quickly remove headgear from accident victims in order to check for vital signs and to perform emergency procedures. The Foundation has devised tests and criteria for helmet removability.
The Foundation tests helmets for visual field. The helmet must provide a minimum range of vision appropriate to its use as measured on standard head forms. Most Snell certified helmets will meet the requirements stated in this Standard and are considered appropriate for street use. However, the Foundation may also certify headgear with much more restricted visual fields for use only in carefully controlled competitive environments. Such headgear will include warning labels identifying them as appropriate only for certain activities.
Be absolutely certain that your helmet is appropriate for your intended uses. Furthermore, since the range of vision you obtain may vary considerably from our measurement, be absolutely certain that the helmet and face shield permit you adequate vision.
There are several important factors which the Foundation does not consider directly but which bear on the effectiveness of protective helmets. Be certain your helmet is wearable, that is, that it's comfortable and adequately ventilated when worn for prolonged periods. Few people will wear an uncomfortable helmet. A helmet that is not worn won't protect anyone. Also, while you’re trying the helmet on, take a good look in a mirror and ask some friends what they think. Most people will quit using an ugly helmet much more quickly than one that is merely uncomfortable.
Check for conspicuity. Bright colors and reflective patches will make you more visible to others and therefore less likely to be involved in a collision. All your riding gear and especially your helmet should be unmistakable, even to the most inattentive driver.
In a motorcycle accident, the rider may suffer injury or death. Helmets on the market today offer varying degrees of protection, but the consumer has little basis for judging the relative effectiveness of a given model. This Standard presents rational methods for identifying those helmet models which definitely meet specified standards for impact (crash) protection and retention system strength and, afterwards, identifying those which definitely have ceased to meet those standards.
The Snell Foundation urges that protective helmets be required for all individuals participating in supervised racing events and encourages the general public to wear helmets which meet appropriate performance standards.
This 2010 Standard establishes performance characteristics suitable for motorcycling and for use with other open motorized vehicles in which the driver and passengers may not be enclosed such as boats, motorized carts, all-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles. This Standard does not establish construction and material specifications. The Foundation does not recommend specific materials or designs. Manufacturers voluntarily submit helmets to be tested to this Standard and if the submitted helmets pass, a certification is issued.
The Foundation will make available the identity of those products which have been Snell certified but will not attempt to rank those products according to performance nor to any other criteria. Neither does the Foundation distinguish between the needs of participants in competitive events and those of the general public.
All of the requirements described herein, including both initial certification and random sample testing, are an integral part of this Standard. No helmet can satisfy the Standard unless it is subject to both certification and random sample testing by the Foundation.
Snell certification for protective headgear requires a specific contractual agreement between the primary headgear manufacturer and the Foundation. Certification procedures may be obtained upon application to the Foundation.
SNELL MEMORIAL FOUNDATION is a registered certification mark and M2010 is a certification mark of the Snell Memorial Foundation.
This Standard addresses the problem of protecting the head from direct impact with surfaces or objects that might be encountered in a motorcycling accident. The Standard prescribes direct measures of several factors bearing on a helmet's ability to protect the head as well as its general serviceability as motorcyclist headgear. Thus, this Standard is directed towards the kinds of performance bearing on head protection that may not readily be discernable by even knowledgeable consumers at the time of purchase.
Some of these performance requirements have been expressed in terms of limitations on the various components and features of the single general helmet configuration currently available. These expressions have been used only for the sake of clarity and should not be misinterpreted as requiring specific configurations or materials. As newer helmet technologies appear, these limitations will be re-examined and, perhaps, restated.
A motorcycle helmet consists generally of a rigid head covering and a retention system composed of flexible straps and hardware. The rigid covering consists of a strong, stiff outer shell and a crushable liner. The stiff outer shell protects by its capacity to spread a concentrated load at its outer surface over a larger area of the liner and the wearer's head. The crushable liner protects the head from direct impact by its capacity to manage impact energy. Since there is no certain way to anticipate the severity of a head impact or whether the impact surface will be such that it will spread the load over the helmet or concentrate it at a single point, the most generally effective helmet will combine the strongest, stiffest possible outer shell with a liner chosen to limit the peak deceleration of the wearer’s head to within tolerable limits.
The retention system holds the headgear in position throughout normal usage and especially during falls and accidents, ensuring that the helmet will be in place to manage a direct impact. This Standard applies two different tests to the retention system. The first of these tests for stability by fitting the headgear to a standard head form and then attempting to displace it by applying tangential shock loadings. The second tests retention system strength by applying a shock load to the system components through a simulated chin.
The quality of the fit and the care taken with the adjustments are absolutely critical elements in these tests. The manufacturer must provide suitable guidance so that the wearer will be able to select and adjust headgear to obtain the necessary quality of fit and positional stability.
The capacity for impact protection is determined by direct measurement of the shock delivered through the helmet to a head form when the helmeted head form is dropped in a specified manner onto any of three unyielding anvils.
Most motorcycle helmets are intended to accommodate a range of head sizes and shapes. Various thicknesses of resilient padding are sometimes placed within otherwise identical helmets during production or during fitting to configure the helmet to several different ranges of head size. This resilient padding does not significantly affect the way the helmet absorbs and attenuates impact and is not directly addressed in this Standard.
The helmet must also resist penetration by sharp edged and pointed projections and projectiles. This capacity is tested by placing the helmet on a head form and dropping a metal cone of specified mass and geometry onto the shell. The tip of this cone must not penetrate to the head form.
Similarly, the helmets must resist chemical attack by bodily fluids as well as solvents and chemicals associated with motorsports. This capacity may be tested by applying a solvent mix before further conditioning and testing.
Full face helmets provide a measure of facial protection in addition to the impact protection generally sought. The principle feature of a full face helmet is a chin bar that extends forward to cover the jaw area converting the facial opening into a visual port. Frequently, a face shield is also provided so that the wearer's face is completely covered.
In order to be considered a full face helmet, the chin bar must be an integral part of the helmet structure. This interpretation specifically includes configurations in which the chin bar pivots about a hinge up and away from the face but excludes simple “bolt-on” chin coverings. The Standard then tests the rigidity of the chin bar by dropping a weight onto it at a specified velocity so as to attempt to force the chin bar toward the interior of the helmet. The chin bar must not deflect more than a specified amount.
If a face shield is provided with a full face helmet, then this face shield must resist penetration by small particles. A sharp lead pellet of a specified weight is directed into the face shield at a specified velocity. The pellet must not penetrate into the helmet interior.
This Standard also includes a test intended to determine whether the headgear may be removed from an unconscious accident victim quickly, easily and reliably in spite of any damage the headgear might reasonably be expected to sustain. Traditional helmet architectures have satisfied this requirement so readily that many Standards including previous Snell Foundation Standards have not mentioned it. Even so, it is unthinkable that a headgear might protect its wearer in an accident only to thwart attempts at rescue afterward.
Inadequate ventilation may render a helmet unwearable in hot climates, especially if the helmet is full faced. But this Standard makes no direct demands on either the quantity or quality of air flow to the wearer.
Other general features of motorcycle helmets may include eyeshades and accommodations for goggles, and visibility enhancements such as bright colors and reflective surfaces. These features all deal with matters of safety and comfort that are not directly addressed in this Standard but which merit the consideration of wearers as well as manufacturers.
Although helmet use has been shown to reduce the risk of head injuries significantly, there are limits to a helmet's protective capability. No helmet can protect the wearer against all foreseeable accidents. Therefore injury may occur in accidents which exceed the protective capability of any helmet including even those helmets meeting the requirements of this Standard.
A helmet's protective capability may be exhausted protecting the wearer in an accident. Helmets are constructed so that the energy of a blow is managed by the helmet, causing its partial destruction. The damage may not be readily apparent and the Foundation strongly recommends that a helmet involved in an accident be returned to the manufacturer for complete inspection. If it is not possible to do so, the helmet should always be destroyed and replaced.
Finally, the protective capability may diminish over time. Some helmets are made of materials which deteriorate with age and therefore have a limited life span. At the present time, the Foundation recommends that motorcycle helmets be replaced after five (5) years, or less if the manufacturer so recommends.