Riding a bike in Europe without a helmet is illegal, and there is some special type of helmet which are approved by the EU for wearing while riding. You cannot ride without one if it is not approved by the ECE.
The ECE stands for Economic Commission for Europe. It is a special type of certification given to a company for producing helmets. These helmets are then used throughout Europe. The purpose of this certification is to ensure public safety on the roads because it is very dangerous to ride without a helmet or with a helmet that cannot protect you.
There are certain criteria for a helmet to be approved by this commission. And also different indications are given to know the ECE-approved helmet.
Before approval, the helmet is exposed to different types of tests and experiments. First, they have to tolerate crashes and accidents to see whether they can sustain a crash or accident. For example, if a helmet company wants approval for a helmet for Netherland, the helmet has to experiment on roads similar to Netherlands’ roads.
The helmets are subject to test which resembles real life. They are kept in both low and high temperatures, they are subjected to ultraviolet lights. Sometimes the helmet is thrown to see whether they are good enough to be safe or not. Their outer shell is also checked to protect the neck from hurting when the rider has an accident.
If they withstand these tests, they are approved if not then it is given back for the experiments. The commission also sees how much field a person can see when he is looking through the gate of that helmet. If the view is less than a certain area, the helmet would be rejected. You may find this Bell Qualifier DLX review useful if you are looking for ECE approved helmet.
Once the helmet passes all the tests and experiments of the ECE, it is given a special kind of indicator through which one can recognize that the helmet is approved.
Label with a number
An approved helmet will have a label on it. This label has the capital letter E and a specific number on it. The letter E shows us the recognition of the commission. On the other hand, there are specific numbers assigned for specific European countries. Each European country has its unique number.
For instance, Germany has given label E1, France E2, Italy E3, Britain E11, and so on. It does not mean that a helmet having the label E1 cannot be worn in Italy or France or that an E11 labeled helmet cannot be worn in Germany.
It only means that labeled helmets are tested and made in these countries but they can be worn anywhere in the European Union.
Why is it called UN ECE R22.05?
There is a history behind, why is it called UN ECE R22.05. The UN approved the ECE commission in 1972 which had some regulations. They named these regulations ECE R22.05. These regulations include how a helmet should be tested, how would it have experimented with, and how much mass its shell must have.
The regulation says that the helmet shells must not extend 1kg of mass. Before approval, it should be subjected to both cold and hot temperatures. Its shock absorber and penetration level should be checked. Its duration and rigidity should also be checked before approval.
Certification similar to ECE
ECE is only applicable to European countries. You cannot ride with one in America. America has its certification which is called DOT which stands for Department of Transportation. It is a certificate for the American citizen to wear while riding.
DOT tests and experiments are also stickers but not much like ECE. They are also exposed to different temperatures, humidity, moisturizers, etc. SNELL is a similar type of certificate awarded in America.
Alongside ECE British government has its certificate which is called SHARP. It is also used for motorcycles. They give these helmets stars, from one to five. The higher the star, the better and more expensive it is.
Every accident is dangerous but the accident on a motorcycle is the fatal one. You have very little chance of surviving. Out of 10 accidents, 9 people are very likely to have broken bones or other minor injuries. So the helmet is necessary and also it is under the law. But the helmet should also be made to sustain these accidents and ECE-approved helmets are the best for the task.