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Helmet forum fails to resolve issues

Helmet laws sticker
Australian Standard sticker

A national motorcycle helmet forum has failed to reach any resolutions nor give riders any clear indication of what is a legal helmet or whether tinted visors and helmet cameras are legal.

Today’s forum was convened by Standards Australia and included representatives of state and federal governments, road safety groups, certifiers, retailers, distributors, importers and most importantly riders.

At the end of the Sydney forum, Standards Australia chairman Richard Brooks only committed to report back to the board on the range of issues discussed.

While riders are hoping for “harmonisation” of the helmet laws and their enforcement across state borders, one forum attendee did suggest a further step – global harmonisation of helmet standards!

Dan Leavy from the NSW Centre for Road Safety, says we should follow Queensland’s lead and adopt the international UNECE 22 standard.

Helmet laws helmet stickers helmet forum
USA DOT standard with ECE 22.05 sticker

He says change is needed because the current Australian Standard is restrictive, limits choice and sizes, and has no quality assurance requirements.

He says there are no helmet manufacturers in Australia and we are a very small market in the globe without a lot of influence over helmet manufacture.

However, rather than surrendering control of safety standards to an international body, he says Australia can have direct input into furthering and updating this standard as we are a signatory to the relevant international standard treaty.

He says their centre has also compared the Australian standard with five other standards and found there are “no meaningful differences observed”. The only difference was in the penetration test which is particular to Australia and not included in UNECE testing.

“It’s to do with build quality and it’s not a risk to riders,” he says of the penetration test which consists of dropping a spike on to a helmet. “If this was a real risk, pedestrians would be walking around wearing chin pads.”

The centre has produced a public consultation paper on their proposal which they have postponed until after the forum, he says.

While the forum didn’t reach any conclusions, there is some hope that the arguments put forward by rider groups will be heard by the relevant state and federal bodies as there were several representatives for various ministers at the forum.

A representative for Federal Minister Bruce Billson says there is no timeframe for a resolution on the issue of helmet standards.

“Recommendations have been given to the minister, but he hasn’t made an indication,” he says. “However, he is interested in the outcome of this forum and he’s very well aware of what is going on.”

Australian Standards spokesman Adam Stingemore pointed out that they develop standards and it is up to governments to make a choice to use them.Helmet laws - helmet petition, helmet forum helmet forum

However, he acknowledged the problems of different laws between states. “If there was one standard there would be an expectation that you could use that standard and ride around Australia. At the moment you can’t,” he says.

He says they need agreement between eight state and territory governments and the commonwealth, plus road authorities, police and multiple regulatory authorities with conflicting objectives.

Australian Motorcycle Council helmet committee chair Guy Stanford says riders currently don’t know if a helmet complies and they “have no faith in the system”.

“The situation has been confusing and we need to resolve it without getting bogged down,” he says.

The AMC is “comfortable” with the UNECE 22 standard as it is adopted in more than 50 countries and is based on studies of crashed helmeted riders, not racing car driver helmets as is the Australian standard is.

  • More reports from today’s forum will be released in coming days.
  1. if the ‘eight states and territories’ can’t agree on motorcycle helmet standardisation then why doesn’t the Federal Government make a country wide rule and then use section 109 of the Australian Constitution to enforce it?

    1. Kerry you are right, they should be able to do so but right now it may invalidate Qld rules which would not be wise.

      Under the Constitution, Section 117 could be used to ensure Qld riders were not fined in other states for UNECE helmets and section 118 used to force other states to recognise each other’s laws.

      The problem is the silly game of each state being able to do what they want is played by all polititions and the constitution ignored.

  2. As a regular visitor to Australia, but a resident and citizen of the UK I use a UK/European helmet which I bring with me. The reason I do this is because the helmet I use ($850 AGV) is comfortable, and has a proven safety record. I feel buying something cheap locally imported from Asia would make me feel I was better off wearing the box. I am not convinced the application of a small sticker adds to my safety.

    1. This issue has been raised with the Commonwealth and State Ministers and we will achieve an exemption for riders on international licences

  3. Yes the forum is only the start of the real process, the issues need to be separated and followed up with the authorities

    Standards Australia are now back to the grindstone on setting that standard, the rest of the issues are

    1/ Establish the national mandatory standard with 2 classes,
    (a) road use (with exemptions for medial and overseas licences)
    (b) Motorsport use

    2/ Unify State road rules. Needs to be done through Australian Road rules as per National Heavy transport reforms
    In these rules multiple risk based offences need to be established and offences made consistant between states
    These rules actually exist in NT and used to exist in ACT prior to 1999

    3/ Have State Ministers in Qld/NSW/Vic address issues of unprofessional conduct by Police in Cmaera/Visor fines

  4. As an attendee of the forum and a representative of the MCC of NSW with plenty of skin in the helmet game and a member of the Centre For Road Safety helmet working group I can confidently say we will see change.
    As Standards Australia advised it is up to the regulators to regulate what can be worn in each state so NSW can in fact change the laws. What is important in this process is NSW and the Fed’s need to follow due process in order to bring this change about.
    Stay tuned as the future is bright.

  5. This will go on for years, as that’s what the regulators, bureaurocrats and administrators do best….keep themselves in a job, and at the same time leave us ripe for the picking on infringements.

  6. I have noticed the Standards tick sticker on $1000 Shoei helmets and the same sticker on $50 Aldi helmets. What do we need standards to be unified for? Obviously there are no standards required, just a sticker!

  7. DOT,JIS, etc certified to ensure the standards that govern our laws and stay safe while on the road.
    These certified depend on the helmets’s material

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