All West Virginia motorcycle riders and passengers are required to properly wear a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) certified helmet. DOT sets the minimum standards for all helmets sold for the intended use of motorcycling on public streets. For a helmet to fit what is commonly known as the "DOT helmet standard," it has to meet the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218 (FMVSS 218) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) final rule for new motorcycle helmet labeling requirements.
When selecting a helmet, look for the following:
- A DOT Sticker: Helmets that meet FMVSS 218 must have a sticker on the outside back of the helmet with the letters “DOT,” or “DOT FMVSS No. 218 Certified”.
- Snell or ANSI Label: In addition to the DOT sticker, labels located inside the helmet showing that a helmet meets the standards of private, non-profit organizations such as Snell or the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) are good indicators that the helmet also meets the Federal safety standard.
- A Perfect Fit: Make sure it fits snugly on your head.
- A Defect FREE Helmet: Look for obvious defects such as cracks, frayed straps, or loose padding. A damaged or defective helmet is not safe for use.
It is important to note that some novelty helmet sellers 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.