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Florida Motorcycle Handbook: How to Identify Unsafe & Illegal Motorcycle Helmets if Wearing or Required to Wear Helmets

The Florida Motorcycle Driver Handbook contains all of the information that you need to familiarize yourself with the concepts on the license exam!

Florida Motorcycle Handbook: How to Identify Unsafe & Illegal Motorcycle Helmets if Wearing or Required to Wear Helmets

Table of Contents

2. Motorcycle Legislation

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) requires that all motorcycle helmets sold in the U.S. meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 218. Accordingly, Florida law requires that motorcycle helmets meet FMVSS 218 requirements. Chapter 15B1006(3), Florida Administrative Code, deals with motorcycle helmet design and construction. The code clearly states: "Helmets not designed for use by motorcycle occupants, including but not limited to the following, are not approved: bicycle helmets, toy helmets, military combat helmets, flight helmets, soft helmets and team sports helmets." Many Florida motorcycle riders wear cheap and unsafe helmets that do not meet FMVSS 218. Most of these helmets are sold as novelty items by merchants and are used to circumvent the FMVSS 218 requirements. The following information will exceed FMVSS 218. It is important to note that some sellers of novelty helmets provide DOT stickers separately for motorcyclists to place on non-complying helmets. In this case, the DOT sticker is invalid and does not certify compliance.

1.4.1. - SNELL or ANSI Sticker

In addition to the DOT sticker, labels located inside the helmet showing that a helmet meets the standards of private organizations like Snell or the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) are a good indicator that the helmet meets the federal safety standard. A novelty helmet that has a phony DOT sticker plus a phony Snell or ANSI sticker is rare and would probably not be seen.

1.4.2. - Manufacturer's Labeling

Manufacturers are required by FMVSS 218 to place a label on or inside the helmet stating the manufacturer's name, model, size, month and year of manufacture, construction materials, and other information. A helmet that does not meet the federal safety standard usually does not have such a label. However, some non-compliant helmets are falsely labeled claiming to meet the standards of FMVSS 218.

1.4.3. - Impact Absorbing Liner

Helmets meeting the minimum federal safety standard have an inner liner, usually about one-inch thick, of firm polystyrene foam. Sometimes the inner liner will not be visible, but you should still be able to feel its thickness. Unsafe helmets normally contain only soft foam padding or a bare plastic shell with no foam at all.

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