Is ECE Better than DOT Approval?

When you’re shopping for helmets, it’s only natural to seek out the best build possible for your ride, to maximize safety. There are a lot of endorsements and standards out there, though. How can you tell which has the strictest criteria? Which body endorses the most rugged helmets? Well, when it comes down to it, street riders should concern themselves with two standards. The ECE standard is a European standard with robust testing to ensure helmet safety. The DOT standard, on the other hand, is an older standard that governs the road legality of helmets in the United States. While the ECE standard is a bit more rugged, the DOT endorsement is required on any helmet you plan to ride on public roads in the U.S.

What Is ECE Helmet Certification?

ECE certification is an endorsement demonstrating that the helmet meets the standards set by the Economic Commission for Europe. These testing standards are the benchmark for safety on the roadways of more than 50 countries around the world, so if you are riding internationally, you really need an ECE certified helmet. The standard is younger than the DOT tests, and in many ways it is more robust, but both certifications are designed to produce helmets that are built for safety at the speeds that are legal on public roadways. Luckily, many helmets are certified by both bodies to make them suitable in the U.S. and other nations that use the DOT standard as well as those that require ECE approval.

How to Know if Your Helmet is DOT Approved

You’ll know if a helmet is approved to DOT standards when you buy it, because it will be stickered with a DOT sticker if it is. When you’re in a store, that makes it easy to check. So what about when you’re shopping for motorcycle helmets online? That’s where the product descriptions are essential. On sites with robust product descriptions, you’ll find the ECE or DOT status clearly spelled out for helmets that have either endorsement or both of them. Like the detailed specifications you find when browsing Harley Davidson parts, your helmet choices should spell out exactly what you are getting, from features like anti-fog protection to the safety endorsements the helmet has earned.

So Really, Is the ECE Standard Better?

If you’re really determined to make a call, then yes. The ECE standard is a bit better. It’s younger, so there’s a chance it is missing something essential that will need updating as it ages, but it also uses a wider range of tests that produce more robust results. At the same time, the DOT standard uses different tests, which produce different profiles of the ways force can operate on the helmet. The detailed data from both tests becomes useful to manufacturers looking to improve designs, so it’s often about more than just qualifying for distribution in as many countries as possible when helmets carry both stickers.

Of course, if you are looking to get the most robust helmet possible, you need one that also passes racing standards like the SNELL safety standard. For road helmets, the top end designs tend to carry SNELL, ECE, and DOT approval to qualify them for as many settings as possible. Look for helmets with all three endorsements the next time you’re browsing, and add them to the rest of your supply order with new motorcycle seats and other accessories to save on shipping.