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Confusion grows over helmet attachments

Confusion grows on on helmet attachments

A South Australian rider has been warned about wearing a motorcycle helmet camera as confusion reigns over the laws on helmet cameras and bluetooth units.

Adelaide rider Erica Aria went to the Sturt Police Station to submit video of drivers cutting him off in traffic but was surprised when he was instead given an official warning for an “illegal helmet camera”.

Eric Aria says he is planning to fight the warning and has engaged motorcycle rights legal experts Maurice Blackburn Lawyers.

Confusion grows on on helmet attachments
Eric Aria (Photo courtesy Channel 7)

“I wanted to help them, but walked out with a ticket in my hand,” he says. “I was really surprised.”

The police warned he could cop a $450 fine if he is caught again with the camera.

Police comment

South Australian police say the rider was issued a caution for breaching Australian Design Standards. 

“Cameras on motorcycles are legal as long as they don’t interfere with the structural integrity of the helmet,” a police media spokesperson says.

“The officer was of the opinion the rider was in breach due to the manner in which he had attached his camera.

If someone receives an expiation notice (fine) and they are disputing the facts, they can elect to have the matter heard before a court.

When someone is cautioned, there is no fine attached to the expiation and hence, there would be no court hearing.

If the man is disputing the facts with his caution, he is quite within his rights to lodge a complaint with the Police Ombudsman. 

Attaching a camera to a helmet is a personal choice however, the manner in which that camera is attached should not interfere with the structural integrity of the helmet.”

Eric says his helmet camera was attached by double-sided tape and he had not tampered with the integrity of the helmet.Confusion grows on on helmet attachments

Confusion over laws

He says the law is not specific and causing confusion among riders.

The incident follows a recent Facebook claim by a rider that a NSW police warned him electronic attachments to motorcycle helmets would become an offence from March 31 with three demerit points and a $430 fine.

However, NSW police tell us there is no such ruling.

In fact, last year NSW police were instructed by the Police Commissioner to stop issuing infringement notices for helmet accessories.

The Facebook post is either Trump “fake news” or the work of a rogue cop trying to scare a rider. Either way, it only adds to rider confusion and concern about different police interpretations of the rules across state boundaries.

The ACT government last year ratified the legality of helmet cameras and Bluetooth units, while states such as Queensland and Western Australia do not see it as an issue.

In fact, Queensland police actively encourage cyclists to wear them yet bicycle helmets are covered by the same design rules as motorcycle helmets.

In Victoria last year, a rider’s helmet camera fine was waived after several court appearances.

Max Lichenbaum - judge - Confusion grows on on helmet attachments
Max Lichenbaum had his fine waived

However, the judge made the ruling to waive Max Lichenbaum’s fine based on the Maurice Blackburn defence argument that the laws were not accessible.

That still leaves the validity of the laws untested in Victoria, further adding to rider confusion.

Police misinterpretation

It all stems from police interpretations of the Australian Design Rule AS1698 on helmets that says nothing can be attached to a motorcycle helmet and that a helmet shell cannot be modified such as by drilling holes.

However, now that helmets do not need to have Australian specification and Euro-approved helmets are allowed, it has heightened confusion among riders.

The UNECE 22.05 rule now includes a clause which effectively places the onus on a manufacturer to ensure that any attachment fitted internally or externally to a helmet is safe, this effectively moves the responsibility to the point of sale.

As Eric says, the rules need to be made clear one way or the other.

NSW, Victorian and South Australian police seem to interpret the AS1698 specification to determine accessories are illegal on the basis they are rigid external projections protruding more than 5mm beyond the helmet shell.

Yet bike cops in all states have cameras and Bluetooth units attached to their helmets. So it’s a case of one law for riders and another for police. Is there any wonder there is not only confusion but some anger among riders!

NSW Police helmet bluetooth - helmet camera road rage
NSW police have cameras on their helmets, so why can’t we?

Lawmakers struggle to keep up

It seems that law makers around the world are at odds on the safety and benefits of helmet technology and are unable to keep up with some of the emerging technologies such as head-up display.

In France, they even ban riders from wearing earphones under their helmets and in some countries a rider’s intercom is only allowed to have one speaker operating.

  1. Police just want to control who has evidence. If only police have video evidence, they can decide whether to present it or bury it, depending on what is most beneficial for them.

    1. excactly correct , I have heard this directly from a Gold Coast officer who was socialising at the time .He quoted a similar tactic of QPS confiscating phones as
      ” evidence ” if a rider tried to film them .

      1. Yep 100%. though it seems even when you have evidence that you haven’t done something….they won’t care anyway. Too many $$ to make I guess. For instance, this video below is when I got charged for crossing the center line.

        I challenged it, and the fine stood firm. Clearly I was riding dangerously and in need of a fine to right my ways. Sorry for the pixelated video. Was a very dodgy camera.

        1. Watched the video bro,nothing wrong with what you did,you must have been on their “shopping list” for that week/day,would love to see the cop helmet cam footage to see if they did it during their 2 abreast ride.

  2. I was given a verbal caution by a motorcycle cop in SA a couple of years back because he believed my handle bar mounted Go Pro type mount and camera could obstruct my view of my speedo. I argued it did no such thing as it was mounted to the side and not directly in front and I was looking down over it while riding. It didn’t matter that I had an unobstructed view. The cop didn’t like it and wanted it gone. I have a bike and a scooter – I feel ‘naked’ if I leave home without a camera. I suggest, depending on the bike/scooter and type of mirrors a lot of camera mounts will fit mirror posts and not upset the law as I have never been stopped for a mirror post mounted camera.

  3. I asked NSW HWP about cameras the other day, and they told me to look at the legislation. I asked them where I could find it, they pointed me to the 1988 revision of AS 1698. I told them that it was out of date and I’d like to read the most recent revision, their reply was “then you have asked a question that you apparently already know the answer to”

    So I asked NSW RMS and was ignored. So I asked a Police officer at my local station and she said that looking at the relevant legislation she wasn’t able to give me a definitive answer as the legislation is very ambiguous.

    I asked her about Police officers that use them on their helmets, and she said that laws that apply to ordinary citizens often do not apply to police officers. I’m curious though, if the helmet does not meet the “safety standard,” as some officers would argue, then would it not be the case that police forces in Aus are knowingly putting their officers lives at risk by allowing/forcing officers to wear these devices on their helmets?

    1. First cop to go down and be seen to have an injury exacerbated by a helmet fitted accessory will claim OH&S if the force they are working under books citizens under the guise of safety. They want it both ways, but it’s a slippery slope …

  4. >> South Australian police say the rider was issued a caution for breaching
    >> Australian Design Standards.
    >> “Cameras on motorcycles are legal as long as they don’t interfere with the
    >> structural integrity of the helmet,” a police media spokesperson says.
    >> “The officer was of the opinion the rider was in breach due to the manner
    >> in which he had attached his camera.

    … and the answer is in the detail.

    Firstly – Police are *not* subject matter experts in any sense of the term in the field of Australian Standards (I’m not entirely sure what the police think “Australian Design Standards” are? There’s ADR’s for vehicles, AS for everything else, is there even such a thing as ADS? or are they sphincter-plucking terms that sound like they know what they are talking about?).

    Secondly – police officers are not paid to have opinions. They are paid to uphold the law, use discretion, and protect us. Far too often we see police in the media expressing opinions about cars, bikes, firearms, etc etc – it’s not up to them to have an official opinion, we have legislators to write the law and the courts to make judgements … the cops should simply uphold.

    I bet Eric won’t be going back to the plods at Sturt station any time soon. (Is it Eric or Erica? – typo?). I hope the cop who gave him the warning is proud of his actions …

  5. This issue has nothing to do about safety, as most fines aren’t, its all about harassing & controlling innocent people, why because they can, they get a kick out of it & aren’t held responsible for their actions. Once there is one law for the police & people & the people are treated with respect instead of contempt the police might get the respect they think they deserve but until then the police & the law won’t be respected, its just a vicious circle & sadly I cant seeing any change, if anything the relationship between the police & the public has deteriorated over the years since I first got my license 40 years ago

  6. Will be very interested in any updates on this story. I think we can all agree we need some clarification, preferably uniform across all states too!

  7. May I ask if anyone knows the brands & models of cameras that the Police riders (motorcycle & bicycle) of various states use on their helmets?
    Thinking that those cameras would need to be attached according to manufacturers specifications and that has been deemed as “safe and in accordance with the required legislation” by the Police.
    So, following that line of logic, we should be able to use those same cameras and all will be fine; until we get fined…

  8. Really hard to come to terms with police taking time and costs [at tax payers expense] to pursue what I call petty and trivial matters,when the real issue is who is breaking the law and the way in which the regulations are interpreted by the police. State by state jurisdiction is confusing and at times we allow individual officers their own interpretation of the regulations. This is time consuming, wasting court time and individuals loss of earnings due to court appearance [again at tax payers expense]. Contact your local police minister by email or phone their office and complain, with elections in WA and Queensland approaching now is the time to make our voice heard, don’t just approach the minister concerned contact your local member,remember the one you voted for at the last election make them accountable for such stupid laws and regulations and that we need a change for the better.

  9. For starters, isn’t it the job of the POLICE to enforce the law? Using your helmet video to report people to the police for simply cutting you off sounds a bit big brother-ish to me. Hit and run? Cutting you off to the point where you are physically hurt or in an accident? Actual crimes? Sure! Tell the police. But cutting you off?? YeeaaaaNo! It sucks, but depending where you drive it is just another day of riding a motorcycle.

  10. When I first got my Go Pro I asked one of the local Police girls if there was any issue in SA regarding cams and helmets and this was around the time if the guy in Vic who got fined for having one.

    The lady officer didn’t know and would advise me after checking with the traffic branch in Adelaide. A few weeks later I had a message on the phone from her saying all was ok providing the helmet wasn’t damaged e.g. drilling holes etc. and I guess that would also apply to intercoms as well in SA.

    With me asking the question also helped her out and the end result is at least one police officer being a little wiser in SA.

    I don’t use the cam that often on the helmet and most of those times would be when I need to go to Adelaide where the chance of being involved in an incident is greater.

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