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Helmet fines rip off riders up to $1m

Helmet cam
Helmet camera

Riders are being ripped off up to a million dollars in helmet non-compliance offences that may be bogus, yet the NSW cops are still issuing helmet fines.

This is despite state and federal ministers reconsidering helmet laws after a Standards Australia helmet forum in Sydney in February and a helmet camera test case in a Victorian court has again been delayed – now until July 10 – while the police prosecutor tries to prove their case.

Helmet campaigner Wayne Carruthers, who has more than 4000 signatures on a petition for helmet law sanity and uniformity, says it’s a ripoff for police to keep issuing fines for helmet infringements such as “incorrect” stickers, fitting a camera or tinted visors while the laws are being tested and reconsidered.


“The issuing of infringement notices for camera and tinted visors is not just a ripoff it is professional misconduct and blatant revenue-raising,” he says.

“I wonder what will happen as a result of the helmet cam case that is waiting to be finalised soon? If the technicality is upheld, will these fines need to be rescinded?”

His comments come as NSW cops have issued a warning to riders that they are “highlighting motorcyclist awareness and compliance” after 19 riders have died on NSW roads this year, up four from in 2014.

They say that since 2013 officers have issued 3285 fines for non-compliant motorcycle helmets. At $311 per fine, that’s more than $1m in fines. Obviously not all are for tinted visors, cameras, or incorrect stickers.

helmet cams - NSW police
The Stokmans were fined by NSW police for an “offending” GoPro

We asked NSW police for a breakdown of the fines, but they said they could not provide a breakdown, “only they are non-compliant in terms of the Australian Standard”.

Wayne says the police are incorrectly interpreting the various state regulations to claim tinted visors and cameras are voiding the certification of helmets.

“There are no provisions in any of the state regulations to enable it,” he says. “In fact in all other areas of standards regulation such as exhausts, car tinted windows, seat belts, etc, police are only empowered to issue minor defect notices which then enables inspection by qualified inspectors who are either empowered to take action directly against retailers for selling sub standard products or refer the problems to the ACCC for action.”

While the Australian Standard is open to interpretation and is being reconsidered  by relevant government ministers and being tested in a Victorian court, it seems ongoing policing for these offences is nothing less than a rider ripoff, not a safety issue.

We also asked police in each state for the number of fines issued for helmet non-compliance and a breakdown of those figures. So far we have been met with stony silence except for the West Australian police who said they were too busy.

(UPDATE: Victorian police have just replied: In 2012/13 there were 707 offences and a total of $199,374 collected in fines and in 2013/14, 607 offences, $175,423 fines.)

In the Victorian test case, Maurice Blackburn lawyers have argued that it is too expensive and difficult for riders to know or comprehend the arcane helmet laws. The magistrate asked the police to do some homework on this claim and the matter has now been held over twice since December as they try to work it out.

So if the police prosecutors can’t fathom the complex laws and justify their fines, how can riders be expected to comply?

  • Meanwhile, GoPro video may be used in evidence against a passenger in a car that forced a driver to run a Colorado rider off the road, seriously injuring him. In Australia, the rider would be fined for wearing the camera!
  • Have you been fined? Tell us about it. Meanwhile, read this article about what others have done to avoid having to pay helmet fines.
  1. A review of all infringement notices issued in the last 2 years should be conducted by an independent body such as the Ombudsman in each of the States affected with the revenue from any fines identified as Visor or Camera offences reimbursed to riders in the same manner Victoria was forced to do over the issuing of infringement notices to South Australian drivers not displaying registration labels in 2012.

    In addition there should be a moratorium on issuing of any infringement notices by Police for any Helmet Offence other than circumstances where a rider is genuinely not wearing any helmet until the State Regulations are brought into line with normal standards enforcement processes.

    Individual motorcycle riders are being singled out and victimised for standards and regulatory failures in a manner which does not occur in other areas of standards regulation. This is wasting court time and bringing police enforcement as well as public administration into disrepute.

  2. Australian Standards are compliance is for manufacturing and business not individuals. Police traffic fines etc are mostly invalid no royal accent under the Australian Constitution google and research.

  3. Have had no issues here in Townsville. I have an SJ4000 (GoPro Clone) stuck to the side of my helmet. Never been a problem with Police. Even when going through RBT’s e.t.c.

    If I did get a fine, I would definitely take it to court, since I’ve made no modification to the helmet / structure, and the helmet still complies with AS/NZS 1698.

  4. How does my $700.00 Shoie have the same Standards Australia ticks as a $60.00 no name Aldi helmet ?
    I believe Standards Australia is a private company and not a government department therefore working for profit which in itself makes the system vulnerable .
    If my tinted visor is not legal what about my $ 20 sunglasses I may be wearing under the helmet ?
    God I hate legislators !!!!

  5. How many infringements have been issued? And what for? This is such a ‘storm in a teacup’ issue. Whatever lobby groups or obsessives think all I want as a consumer is some easy way to know a helmet meets a basic standard … and if all that takes is a sticker to let me know that … then that’s cool with me.

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