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Helmet compliance confusion grows

E1 helmet compliance label
A Euro helmet compliance label

There seems to be more confusion, rather than less, in the wake of Victoria following Queensland with wider helmet compliance laws.

Three respected helmet experts claimed that the DOT-approved helmet in the photo below which was featured in our story announcing the new laws last week, is not allowed under the new rules.

DOT helmet stickers
American DOT helmet sticker with ECE number

They say that even though the rules mention the European and United Nations ECE 22.05, the sticker shown is not the correct one.

However, on closer inspection it seems it may be legal because it has a label sewn into the chin strap with an “E1” in a circle. The jury is still out!

E1 helmet compliance label
E1 helmet compliance label

Helmet expert Wayne Carruthers (sign his petition for common sense helmet reform here) agrees there is a lot of confusion, especially in the lengthy and “incompetent” wording of the Victorian rules, but admits that could be a good thing.

“Right now the more confusion there is the better from my perspective as it will help get back to the situation of police leaving riders alone if they have a helmet on their head,” he says.

It may also lead to the situation where legislators realise how dumb their complex rules are and actually do something about making them simpler for riders to understand and more difficult for police to misinterpret. Hopefully, that will spark a common sense approach to making uniform helmet rules across state borders.

However, as the new rules in Victoria and Queensland stand, the clearest indicator of a compliant helmet – other than an Australian-approved helmet – is not the sticker on the outside of the helmet, but the E1 chin strap label.

Motorcycle Riders’ Association of Queensland president Chris Mearns says US helmets with the lettering on the outside as in the picture “are a problem unless there is a proper certification label inside and many do not have it”.

MRAQ president Chris Mearns - learner riders
MRAQ president Chris Mearns

In fact, the Queensland rules don’t even require an external sticker, says Wayne.

And although the rules may mention helmets “complying with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) 22.05 standard’, it seems this may actually cover some Japanese and American helmets as shown in the above example. As we say, the jury is still out!

If you are still concerned that the helmet you bought online or while overseas is not compliant, send photographs of the stickers and internal labels to the Queensland and Victorian transport authorities.

Wayne Carruthers helped draft helmet petition and created helmet laws website
Wayne Carruthers helped draft helmet petition and created helmet laws website

However, Wayne warns against a deluge of inquiries.

“Harassing the State departments on UNECE labelling right now may not be a good idea as NSW will revive their idea of an Oz-only sticker which will then prevent people buying OS (when travelling OS) and lock the business into the established players in helmet supply,” he says.

“After NSW has approved UNECE helmets than we can have a real go at it.”

One of the country’s leading helmet experts, Guy Stanford from the Australian Motorcycle Council, agrees that the new rules will percolate to other states.

“I’ll bet you a schooner that South Australia goes ECE 22 before NSW,” he says.

The AMC has made a submission to the Senate Select Committee Inquiry into Road Safety asking for a uniform definition of “an approved motor bike helmet” across all jurisdictions and for the Australian Consumer Law to allow international helmets to be legally sold in Australia.

Meanwhile, the simplest guide we can give you is the following:

  • NSW, Tas, SA, WA, ACT, NT – AS1698-1988 and AS/NZS1698-2006
  • Qld and Vic – UNECE 22.05, AS1698-1988 and AS/NZS1698-2006