Last week’s Helmet Forum still leaves riders unclear about the laws governing the use of helmet cameras and tinted visors, says Australian Motorcycle Council helmet committee chairman Guy Stanford.
Guy was one of many rider representatives at the forum, convened by Standards Australia. It was also attended by relevant government departments, university researchers, rider representatives, motorcycle helmet crash testers and certifiers, motorcycle industry representatives, road safety experts and regulators, motorcycle helmet importers and distributors and several representatives of Australian-designed Vozz Helmets. Police were not present as they were at the first forum.
That’s a shame, because the biggest issues affecting riders are the varying interpretations of the standards by police in each state on issues such as tinted visors and helmet cameras.
Guy and other rider representatives, CJ Burns of the MCC of NSW and longtime helmet campaigner Wayne Carruthers, made the case for a nationally consistent, sensible and understandable road rule.
“The problem remains regulatory, with road authorities seeking amendment of AS/NZS 1698, to turn it into an in-service regulation to control use of helmets,” Guy says.
“This approach is wrong-headed and has already shown problems.”
Those problems include riders being fined by police in one state, but not others, and one Victorian judge dismissing a helmet camera case because the laws were too difficult to access, not because the compliance standard was correctly interpreted.
“Road authorities need to sort out a consistent single national road rule with in-service regulations for helmet use based on evidence and current safe practices (e.g. dark visors in daytime),” Guy says.
“In-service regulations are to address issues like drilling holes in a helmet, crash damage and any other issues that may compromise a helmet.
“Several forum participants seemed to be hypnotised by cameras on helmets. We had the FUDs of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt, speculations and secret testing, but no actual evidence of an injury problem. Some statements made on this subject were not credible.”
There was also a lot of muddled gobbledigook about tinted visors and goggles, sunglasses and internal drop-down sun shades with one nanny-state bureaucrat declaring it was ridiculous to allow the rider decide when to use them!
The forum was held mainly to decide whether the AS/NZS standard needs to remain now that the ACCC allows UNECE 22.05 to be sold and all states and territories permit their use.
“The majority of helmets into the future will be ECE 22-05,” Guy says.
“Some helmets will still require AS/NZS 1698:2006, but there is no technical need to amend the helmet or visor standard for these.
“What is needed is improved point-of-sale surveillance of helmet certifications for all standards.”
Guy rejects claims that the first Helmet Forum at Standards Australia early in 2015 was a farce.
“Yet what resulted was national change to helmet laws to allow sale and use of ECE 22-05 helmets,” he says.
“This came about through regulatory changes by the ACCC and road authorities, not from any action of Standards Australia.
“This year’s Forum at Standards Australia did its best to disappear down a psychedelic rabbit hole, Standards Australia again pointing out that the solution was not with them.”
Guy says solution rests with the hard work of rider representatives working toward a common national road rule.
“Again, the heavy lifting will be done by those quietly doing the ongoing and consistent work of state and territory based rider organisations co-ordinating through the Australian Motorcycle Council,“ he says.