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Helmet forum may solve varied laws

Helmet laws - helmet petition, helmet forum helmet forum right edge open

There are mixed emotions about the ability of a national helmet forum today (February 19) to resolve the confusing helmet standards across the nation and the varied interpretations by law enforcement.

Standards Australia has invited members of the public to participate in the helmet forum in Sydney to discuss changes to helmet laws (and MotorbikeWriter will be there on a special web link to report on the outcomes).

It comes at a good time as Queensland has recently ruffled the feathers of retailers, legislators, distributors, helmet testers and importers by changing the rules on helmets to accept the UN standard.

The forum is therefore a timely opportunity to bring some sanity to helmet laws.

There can be some optimism in the fact that State Government Transport Ministers around Australia have either indicated representatives from their departments will attend or that they will be considering the information presented at the seminar.

AS/NZ1698 helmet sticker
AS/NZ1698 helmet sticker

However, the agenda for the four-hour forum seems to be jam-packed giving little time for real discussion and the likelihood of being hijacked by attendees with vested interests in keeping the confusing, expensive and replicated standards testing system in place.

Issues that could and should be discussed are the extra Australian tests required that impose a higher retail price on helmets, consistent standards across all states and a clear decision on whether helmet cams and bluetooth units are allowed to be fitted to helmets.

And it would be good if the forum kept in mind that the helmet safety standards are there to serve the end user – we riders – not companies or individuals with vested commercial interests.

As the forum gets underway, it is an opportune time for riders to register their concern about the laws and call for uniformity and sense via the online petition.


  • Don’t forget to return to MotorbikeWriter later today for a report on the forum.
  1. This forum, to which I was not invited even after emailing the organizers, as an ex Chair of the relevant Standards on multiple occasions, and the author of the key paper addressing the complex of issues surrounding visors. Ironically the program, which was leaked to me eventually, does not appear to be set up to address the central issue of the outdated nature of the Standards as they currently stand, leading to regulatory confusion and inconsistencies across the States. The alignment of this, the second most important safety standard that we have, is via consumer law not federal design rules. The neglect of this aspect by the National Transport Commission (whose job it is to coordinate national coherence of transport laws and regulations) and the Australias Road Rules groups is appalling. once confidence in a Standard begins usage slides as the credibility of the safety message fades in comparison to the arbitrary application of wildly variable police enforcement practices.

    As it happens I had been approaching the NTC repeatedly for over a year to ask them to take this issue up. oddly Dr Potter is always out when I repeatedly call to follow up.and no callbacks…I can’t think why.

    I am sad to see this meeting coordinated by an SAIGlobal official, as SAI have a massive conflict of interest in this area.

    The community..let alone motorcyclists..need the following outcomes for this clearly somewhat closed forum

    1. Compliance with the formal requirement of Standards a Committees to review and when possible take up overseas Standads.
    2. As Queensland has already done this on the enforcement side secure agreement by all parties to adopt the same compliance Standards
    3. The National Transport Commission and the state road rules groups align interpretation and regulatory specifications to clarify what comprises compliance in terms of the primary safety goal (head impact attenuation above the Test Line) and the secondary issues of auxiliary safety support (communication, camera, etc issues, and detachable auxiliary items such as visors
    4. Endorsement of the primary goal of eye protection in impact attenuation, and consideration in a chorent manner of the secondary aspects of tinting fitments Eric
    5. Positive action to align nationally such critical upcoming secondary safety developments that require helmet attachments. These include V2V ITS integration, head up displays and the warning displays these enable.

    These are all issues that I have raised in the appropriate available forums for what now stretches into decades.

    I do not see these clear and progressive steps being endorsed today, and pray that I sm wrong.

    Had I remained Chair I would have had all these anticipated and by now agreed and in place in a consultative and forward looking manner as I did when rescuing the credibility of the Standards in the 1980s. I might point out that the QUT work to secure head firms fir children was the direct result of my pressuring the federal government to fund this important gap.

    Similar proactive steps should have been taken by the current committee chairs, to avoid the current sad situation. Perhaps my own 59 years of road crash free riding has helped.

    I hope that this helps readers to see how they can take constructive proposals to their own State politicians and regulators.

    1. Among all the valid issues you have raised, perhaps the most important to note is number 5.
      The industry is in catch-up mode … or rather not bothering to catch-up mode … with technology.
      We are about to witness an explosion of technology integrated into helmets without any guidelines or safety net!
      Thanks Marcus!
      I look forward to your comments after the forum.

    1. Lunchtime and so far it’s just been everyone saying their piece. Don;t think there will be any resolutions at this meeting, but government reps will take away a lot of ideas. Seems good support for Qld’s new international standard. but that still doesn’t resolve enforcement issues such as visors. Full report coming this afternoon.

    2. tinted visors need to be treated in context, as a secondary function of the primary function of impacts resistance. see my 7am post today. Just FYI the debate on as1609 and the UK debate in early 2000’s both pivoted on the points made in: wigan(1979)* (available on my website of course, as I have permission from J Optometry to do so). Its an old paper but the coherent arguments are not rehearsed better anywhere esle yet- if only people would do more sensible research updating these interacting issues of veiling luminance, scratches, dazzle etc.. but perhaps there are seen to be no suitable supervisors..

      * Wigan, M. R. (1979). “Towards improved standards for automotive eye protection.” Australian Journal of Optometry 8(62): 11.
      The requirements are considered for a reassessment of the Australian standards relating to eye protection for vehicle users, particularly for motorcycle users. The interlocking requirements of the Australian standards for vehicle users’ helmets and for automotive eye protection are illustrated. Light transmittance requirements for windscreen, visors, and goggles are reviewed and the case for tinted eye protection for daytime use considered. The contribution of surface scratching to glare is assessed. Impact test procedures for series of related standards are reviewed. The possible contribution of eye protection to crash injury is considered, and some of the available data sources from in depth accident studies are summarised

      Just FYI as its a helmet day a few more references old but staggeringly and alarmingly still substantially relevant(that really makes me sad) ill add at the end. Note the reccommednation for an overhaul of the helmet and visor standards in the HORSCORS report– the same applies today but with a very different context where excellent overseas standards exist, and tetsing fcaiites are almost entirely overseas these days..

      Wigan, M. R. (1986). Australian Helmet Standards and their enforcement. Vermont, Victoria, Australian Road Research Board.AIR 812-10

      Wigan, M. R. (1978). Motorcycle helmets and visors: a brief review following a Federal Inquiry. Vermont, Victoria, Australian Road Research Board. AIR 812-2

      Australia: House of Representatives: Advisors: P.W.Milne & M.R.Wigan (1978). Motorcycle and bicycle safety. Report of the Standing Committee on Road Safety of the House of Representatives. Canberra, AGPS.179pp
      The introduction of a new Australian standard for motorcycle helmets (AS 1698-1974) in 1975 has been followed by legislative action. A number of possible or potential problems were stated to have ensued in evidence given before the house of representatives standing committee on road safety, and in view of the four year lapse since the appropriate SAA committees (au/12 vehicle users helmets: au/13 automotive eye protection) has last met, the tabled report of this federal committee requested a review of both as 1698-1974 and as 1609-1974 (the relevant standard for motorcycle helmet visors called up by as 1698-1974). This report collates the material references and recommendations from the evidence on helmets and visors, including bicycle helmets (now covered by AS 2063-1977), and includes background material drawn from a recent overseas study journey by the author

  2. Ironically the combination of Australia adoption of the EU 22 standard would cover 5 nicely…and through WP29 Au has a real voice in the Eu standard.. if ONLY we could get a coherent basis for motorcycle policy engagement (as distinct from pure reactive lobbying) yet the rider groups let the Federal m/c safety consultative group (which originated in my role as expert advisor to the House of Reps motorcycle and bicycle inquires in the 1970s//) not die…

    Its a sad reflection when I take the effort to feed up to date top quality overseas research papers directly applicable to motorcycle policy debates on right now that this seems to be taken as mildly irrelevant (judging my emails I have received today anyway, maybe not typical)

    Until riders do a far far better job of combining to support and place appropriate people in the higher level relevant official bodies where representation can be secured, this will of course continue/

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