What are the motocross helmet safety standards?

Worldwide there are multiple helmet safety standard organisations which perform tests on helmets to establish weather a helmet is safe enough to distribute to customers.

DOT: Department Of Transport of the USA:

Any helmet in America needs to pass DOT standards to be legal, DOT standards favour energy-absorbent helmets over all other safety test types as studies have indicated that absorbing impact is the highest priority of a helmet although the standards of this testing has not been reviewed or changed since the 1970’s.

It is thought that particularly in motocross on closed courses that the need for penetration strength is less than the need for energy absorption qualities and in some cases helmets which have a higher penetration resistance will often compromise on energy absorption as the outer shell is harder.

DOT relies on the individual helmet manufacturer to perform testing of their helmets and no further testing is carried out to ensure quality control once the product has reached the retail market.

Snell Memorial Foundation:

The Snell Memorial Foundation is a non-profit organisation founded in 1957 after the death of William "Pete" Snell, who died in 1956 after sustaining injuries to his head in a car race.

Snell ratings are reviewed and updated every five years with the core focus being more on impact attenuation than favouring energy absorbtion only. The Impact Attenuation of a Snell helmet is higher than the DOT standard and the penetration tests use five different anvil shapes.

To achieve a Snell standard helmet companies submit their helmets voluntarily for testing, Snell also randomly buys Snell approved helmets and re-tests them for compliance after they have reached the retail market.

ECE Certification: ECE or United Nations Economic Commission for Europe

Is actually the most common internationally recognized helmet certification as more than 50 countries have adopted the ECE standards for helmets. The ECE standard, like DOT, favours impact absorbing helmets but has a more stringent set of tests to qualify for their certification.

The ECE rating is the highest to achieve simply because the Impact Attenuation level requires the highest passable rating out of all three ratings being DOT, Snell and ECE.

Unlike the DOT standard which relies on the manufacturer being honest, the ECE batch tests helmets prior to public release to ensure quality before the helmet leaves the factory.

What is the Australian motocross helmet safety standard?
There are a number of companies which perform testing and provide approval for motorcycle helmets in Australia. Depending on the company will determine what the approval sticker looks like, a common one is the “Five red ticks” but we have added an image to help you identify some of the different stickers currently in circulation.
The common piece of information on all of these stickers is the Australian approval number being either:

  • AS/NZS 1698
  • AS/NZS 1698-2006

The second code is a newly revised code and all helmets moving forward will contain the longer number.

In 2016 the rules and standards were updated for all states throughout Australia. The update to the Australian standard now allows the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) 22.05 standard.

Helmets must display either a stitched label on the inside of the helmet or a sticker on the outside of the helmet, indicating compliance with the approved standards.


Here are some basic facts about the changes to what is now legally as mandatory approved helmet standards throughout Australia.

All Australian and Territories now recognise both ECE 22:05 and AS/NZS 1698:2006 as the mandatory approved helmet standards for vehicle users.

To be completely clear, AS/NZS 1698:2006 has not been dropped as an approved standard, nor will it be in the near future. There are no plans to make any changes at all to this standard.

Helmets complying to AS/NZS 1698:2006 are still legal to sell and use in all states and territories of Australia as there are many helmets for sale and/or in circulation so no changes to the acceptance of the Australian standard will be made in the foreseeable future.

Some Australian importers will continue to bring in selected models under this standard. Some helmets models are either not available for sale in Europe or not designed / manufactured for that standard so the AS/NZS 1698:2006 standard will continue to be created.


Markings on helmets:

On ECE 22:05 approved helmets the only requirement is for the certification code to be attached to the retention strap.

No external stickers are required.

AS / NZS 1698 approved helmets will continue to be marked as they always were.

If you are having your helmet custom painted make sure you do not remove the safety sticker as this will also make the helmet void of its approval.

It has been brought to MXstore's attention that some of MA's less experienced machine examiners are not familiar with the accepted standards other than AS169, or where the standards label is located. For further clarification on any of the Australian helmet standards please contact Motorcycling Australia who will happily direct you to published information regarding the new laws.


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