Eight Motorcycle Helmets Failed 2004 DOT Testing

Motorcycle helmet models from MDS, Nexl, NXT, Rodia, Vemar and Zamp failed to meet the performance standards for the DOT federal standard.

Last year eight motorcycle helmets failed National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) performance testing for compliance with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218 (FMVSS 218), commonly referred to as the D.O.T. standard.

Every year, NHTSA pays helmet-testing labs to purchase and test helmets that are marketed for use by street motorcyclists and labeled with a D.O.T. sticker, which is supposed to indicate that the helmet has been tested by the manufacturer and complies with federal Department of Transportation standards. The label also is needed to indicate that the helmet complies with state helmet laws.

Last year the two independent labs contracted to test helmets tested 42 models. The eight that failed performance testing were: * MDS RC4 (for failure to adequately attenuate impact force) * Nexl 05 (for retention and penetration failures) * NXT 101 (for retention-system failures) * Rodia RF-2 Modular (for exceeding the single peak G limit) * Rodia RHD200 (for exceeding peak G three times and retention-system failures) * Rodia RHD500 (for retention-system failures) * Vemar VRX3 (for multiple penetration failures) * Zamp S-1 (for retention and penetration failures)

There were also three more helmets that technically failed because their labels were incorrectly positioned or not printed as specified, but that really doesn't matter to users. There was also one, the THH T-380, that exceeded the requirement for impact attenuation, but apparently the failure was slight enough that the helmet was scored as passing.

The complete 2004 results, including those for the other 34 models that passed the performance testing, are available on the NHTSA FMVSS 218 2004 Test Results page. The site also provides helmet-test results dating back to 2000.

A helmet undergoing some of the D.O.T. performance testing at the Heap Protection Research Laboratory. It is dropped from this height with an instrumented headform inside to see how well it attenuates the force of the impact.
The headform used for impact testing.