Effective immediately, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has changed it’s motorcycle helmet label requirements. Until the new rule took effect, the stickers required on motorcycle helmets that met the Federal Safety Standard simply read “DOT.” The new stickers must read “DOT FMVSS No. 218 Certified.”
What possible good will the new stickers do? We’re not sure. However, according to the NHTSA, the old stickers were too easy to counterfeit. They believe that the new ones will reduce the likelihood that non-approved helmets will be affixed with the sticker. Their concern stems from a NHTSA report citing a rise in the use of “novelty helmets,” often called “beanies” or “brain buckets.” Those helmets, which are usually cheaply-produced and offer little or no safety benefit, are primarily worn by riders who would rather be wearing no helmet at all. According to the NHTSA, use of federally-approved helmets decreased to just 54 percent in 2010, down from 67 percent the prior year.
We think that the “new sticker rule” is — almost literally — a band-aid on the issue of motorcycle safety, and we are not supporters of mandatory helmet laws for adult motorcycle riders. Nonetheless, as motorcycle accident lawyers who’ve seen far too many tragic accidents, we are strong proponents of wearing proper safety gear while riding. This begins with a federally-approved motorcycle helmet. No matter how long you’ve been riding, you cannot always account for what other riders out there are going to do. As always, be safe, and ride smart.