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Four myths about tinted helmet visors

Bell Bullitt motorcycle helmet with bubble visor helmet cam tinted visor
Bell Bullitt with tinted visor

Now that Euro helmet standards have been approved in all states and territories except Western Australia, the focus for enforcement could shift to tinted visors, warns longtime helmet campaigner Wayne Carruthers.

(Western Australia is expected to fall into line soon and South Australia has announced their laws will change by May.)

Wayne has compiled the following list of four common myths about the legality of tinted visors to help riders fathom the conundrum of our “AS1609” standards laws.

Myth 1 – Tinted visors are illegal

NSW Police helmet bluetooth - helmet camera road rage - tinted visor
Tinted NSW police visor

Even police wear tinted visors, so they are not all illegal!

AS1609 says clear or untinted lenses must have a “luminance transmittance” of not less than 85% while tinted and “gradient-density lenses should not be less than 50%” and “shall comply with the coloration requirements of AS1067”.

It says visors assembled with a tinted strip positioned outside the normal field of view do not require special labelling.

“However, the tinted area must comply with the prescribed coloration requirements and optical performance,” Wayne says.

That means only very dark visors may be illegal.

Wayne says there is no requirement for stating “luminance transmittance” percentages on visors, and it would be impossible for police to test this at the roadside.

Myth 2 – Visors must be labelled AS1609

“AS1609 only specifies the labelling below, there are no other visor labelling requirements in AS1698 or State helmet regulations,” Wayne says.

AS1609-1981 – Section 7. MARKING AND LABELLING

7.1 MARKING. The name or registered trade name or mark of the manufacturer shall be marked on the eye protector or on a label securely attached thereto.

Visors designed to fasten on to specific designs or brands of helmets shall be clearly marked to this effect.

Tinted lenses shall have the word ‘clear’ or ‘tinted’ as appropriate, embossed on the lens in an appropriate visible position.

7.2 INFORMATIVE LABELLING. In addition to the marking requirement of clause 7.1, durable labels shall be attached to eye protectors or their wrapping conforming with Clause 7.3. Brochures accompanying eye protectors and slips supplied with replacement lenses shall also contain the information prescribed in clause 7.3.


7.31 Wording. The wording shall be as follows.


Tinted lenses are not suitable for use at night

Lenses damaged by scratches will reduce visibility and should be replaced

Visors and goggles having minor scuffed areas or small surface scratches should not be used at night

Contact with petroleum products may impair the optical properties and reduce the mechanical strength

7.3.2 Printing – This clause goes on to specify fonts, font sizes and layout of labels

AGVisor tinted visor
AGVisor can change tint at the touch of a button

Myth 3 – It is illegal to wear a tinted visor at night

“There are no laws or regulations in any State or Territory specifying it is illegal to wear a tinted visor at night,” Wayne says.

“It is simple common sense not to wear a dark tint visor at night, however there are some light-tint (usually yellow) visors which enhance night vision.

“Police are not empowered to write any infringement notice for wearing a tinted visor at night, but are able to informally caution a rider with regard to the safety of wearing a tinted visor at night.”

Myth4 – Iridium and mirror visors are illegal

“These fancy visors are no different to any other tinted visor. They must meet the same requirements,” Wayne says.

“The flash coatings on mirrored visors only actually use a small percentage of light to create the mirror effect. For instance Shark state all their visors meet UNECE 22.05. Schuberth also state all their visors meet UNECE 22.05

“AS1067 sets out the colouration requirements to ensure the ability to see traffic light colours is not impaired just as it does for sunglasses.”

  1. Police will often try to get away with writing dubious infringement notices because of three reasons
    one they think they can do so without question
    Two they think they are protected by various legislation that says they can do what ever they want if it is in the belief that they are correct and necessary in the course of their duties
    Three they are often under pressure to fill the quota so they will try it on when they know they shouldn’t.
    The best defence against all three is to have a laminated card with your licence that states the following:
    knowingly issuing a false infringement notice is an offence not protected under any legislation designed to protect police from civil or criminal prosecution. Charges of perjury, malicious prosecution and attempting to pervert the course of justice are some of the more serious out comes from issuing false complaints. To issue an infringement notice for a nonexistent offence in the mistaken belief that is correct may be covered under protective legislation and prevent the officer being held liable for civil or criminal charges but not internal disciplinary action or penalties imposed by a majistrate hearing the matter for which the offence notice was issued.
    It is better that an offence notice not be issued on the spot if you are unsure of the validity,
    A notice can be issued on summons once you have confirmed it’s veracity.

    Get a lawyer to vet the above and add any relevant act details .
    The last bit about summons if there to give them an easy out, most officers will either give up before trying or once they get back and check and actually discover that they could have issued the ticket will not bother with the paperwork, unless you gave them a good reason to that is.

    1. In NSW where there is doubt about whether an offence has been committed police are supposed to record the particulars and refer them to a more senior officer when they return to their base

      With AS1698 helmets and visors there is mis undertanding by police in all States of their regulations and what the standards actually require with regard to labelling and whether tinted visors are allowed

  2. For the next 12 months or more there will be confusion with regard to visors as retailers have stock either unmarked or marked “AS1609” which will need to be cleared before new stock marked as per UNECE requirements is imported

    There are AS1698 helmets being sold now which are fitted with visors stamped with UNECE information not AS1609

    UNECE 22.05 visor labelling does not require the Visible Light Transmittance to be stamped on the visor so even after all existing stock is cleared there will be confusion with police as to whether a visor is compliant with standards

  3. On a side note about visors and sunglasses. I had a pair of quite expensive sunnies that nearly killed me the tint blocked out red there are some very important things that are red and to a lesser extent yellow or amber.

  4. The background to the AS1609 is covered in a paper I published when Chair of relevant AS Committee.The arguments are clearly stated and this paper was the sole reference when an inquiry report was prepared by Loughborough University for the UK Government about 10 years ago.. and it carried the day then too. It might interest some of your readers so here is the reference. The game has moved on (sluggishly) to the issues Wayne discusses.. but its now approaching 40 years since the clear arguments were made (and have endured).Wigan, M. R. (1979). Towards improved standards for automotive eye protection. Australian Journal of Optometry, 8(62), 322-332. I have copies somewhere if anyone has any real interest after this long lapse of time..

    perhaps the analysis of flashing lights in the road environment might give pause for thought on current bicycle rider practices It takes forever for solid work in motorcycles to get action..Ive been doing it for 50 years now……
    Wigan, M. R., & Jenkins, S. E. (1982). The use of modulated and interrupted light signals in the road environment. Paper presented at the 11th Australian Road Research Board Conference, Melbourne, Victoria.

    The demonstrated effect of modulated headlamps on motorycles for enhanced peripheral visibility was accepted in the US NHTSa but rejected by the ROSPA Road DSAfety people in Victoria. Jenkins, S. E. and M. R. Wigan (1986). “The applicability of a motorcycle headlamp modulator as a device for enhancing daytime conspicuity.” Transportation Research Record(1047): 88-92.
    Plus Ca Change c’est la meme chose

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