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Most motorcycle enthusiasts recognize that a lot can go wrong on even short trips. Not only must you plan for sudden changes in weather and riding conditions, but you also must watch for distracted, careless or aggressive drivers. 

According to the Washington Traffic Safety Administration, despite accounting for only 3% of drivers on state roadways, motorcycle riders represented 15% of total traffic fatalities in 2017. Always wearing a helmet is an effective way to avoid a serious injury on a bike. Still, not all helmets offer the same protection for your head, neck, face and skull. When purchasing a helmet, therefore, you must look for one that has a safety rating. Three organizations test and approve riding helmets. 

1. The U.S. Department of Transportation 

The DOT tests riding helmets before they hit the market to be sure they comply with federal safety requirements. If you buy a helmet from a manufacturer in the United States, check to see if it has a DOT-approval sticker on its back. If it does, you can be certain that the helmet has enough safety features to meet or exceed DOT rules

2. The Economic Commission for Europe 

Increasingly, helmets made in the European Union are making their way into markets in the United States. This is particularly true because of online shopping. If you buy a helmet from a European manufacturer, you probably will not find a DOT seal of approval on it. Instead, you should look for a safety rating from the ECE. Because ECE standards are even a bit more rigid than their DOT counterparts, you can be sure that an ECE-approved helmet is a good investment. 

3. The Snell Memorial Foundation 

While not a governmental entity, the Snell Memorial Foundation tests and approves many racing helmets. If you prefer to fly down the highway or speed around a track, opting for a Snell-rated helmet may make sense. 

The road can be a dangerous place for motorcycle riders. As you can see, though, you have options when it comes to purchasing a safe and effective riding helmet. With a bit of research and some planning, you can find the perfect helmet for your riding style.