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Even though Colorado is currently in the middle of its winter season, spring is just around the corner. In just a couple of months, you are likely to pull the cover off your motorcycle to hit the road, track or trail again. When you do, you should be certain to strap a riding helmet to your head.

Even though helmets have a record of saving lives, Colorado law does not require motorcyclists over the age of 18 to wear one. Still, if you want to boost your chances of surviving a crash or slide, putting on a helmet is a good idea. Not all helmets, though, offer the same level of protection for your cranium. If you are in the market for a new helmet, you should know about common safety ratings.

The U.S. Department of Transportation 

If you buy a helmet in the United States, you should look for the DOT seal of approval. The DOT randomly tests road-use helmets to determine if they meet certain federal safety standards. Specifically, if a helmet has a DOT sticker, you can be sure that it satisfies minimum requirements for impact attenuation, energy absorption and penetration resistance.

The Economic Commission of Europe 

The ECE safety rating mostly covers helmets from the European Union. ECE-rated helmets must comply with similar standards as DOT-certified ones. These helmets also go through additional testing, however. As such, many motorcycle enthusiasts believe ECE-rated helmets to be superior. Nonetheless, many helmets on the market today have both ECE and DOT certifications.

Snell Memorial Foundation 

If you use your motorcycle for racing, you may want to shop for a helmet with a safety rating from the Snell Memorial Foundation. This foundation, which tests both on- and off-road helmets, started after the death of a well-known racer. Arguably the strictest standard, Snell-rated helmets must pass a rigorous test that includes smashing from an anvil.

As a motorcycle rider, you should realize the importance of wearing a safety-rated helmet. You should also recognize that helmets do not last forever. Whether you are investing in your first helmet or replacing an old or damaged one, knowing about popular safety ratings is essential.