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New helmet stickers create confusion

Helmet stickers sticker and lebal

Australia’s confusing helmet laws become even more confounding next weekend when new laws are introduced in Queensland and an array of helmet stickers could become legal.

From February 1, motorcycle riders on Queensland roads can not only wear helmets complying with Australian standard AS1698 or AS/NZS1698 like the rest of the country, but also any helmet complying with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) 22.05 standard, no matter where it is made.

DOT helmet stickers
American DOT helmet sticker with ECE number

While it will create interstate confusion for riders, it is a welcome change that all states should adopt as it widens helmet choice and should lead to cheaper helmets as there will be no requirement for extra local compliance testing.

However, even in Queensland there is confusion.

For a start, retailers are still bound by Australian rules preventing them from selling anything except Australian standard helmets. This leaves riders to buy helmets online or while overseas.

But the confusion doesn’t end there.

The ECE stickers are many and varied and it may be beyond the scope of police officers to know which stickers are relevant. The new rules say they should be something like an E in a circle with a number after it, however that number refers to the European country in which it is made in and could be on any product, not just helmets.

Helmet stickers
A confusing array of helmet stickers

Also, many other countries make helmets that are ECE 22.05 approved  but don’t have the E circle sticker. For example, I have several American DOT-approved helmets with the DOT sticker that also includes an ECE 22.05 number. Does this comply or not?

We asked the Transport Department and they didn’t seem to make matters any clearer. In fact, they agreed it may be confusing and suggested that riders and even the police should contact them with specific stickers to see if they comply.

All they could say is if it is a helmet and it has a sticker with an E followed by a number inside a circle, then the rider could be sure it is ECE 22.05 approved.

But they didn’t go into whether other stickers with ECE 22.05 on them would comply, although they did admit that there could be other helmets that comply.

Australian Motorcycle Council helmet expert Guy Stanford says the authorities have not done their homework “or are simply not up to the task”.

“Maybe this explains why so many road authorities have been taught to believe fairytales about helmets and certification,” he says.

Helmet stickers
Bill’s Egyptian helmet

Rider Bill van Kesteren, who bought a helmet in Egypt, asked the Queensland Main Roads department whether the EC22.05 sticker on it meant it was compliant under the new rules.

The answer he received wasn’t totally clear and Bill says the department staff member suggested Bill keep a copy of the Department of Transport new helmet rule on the bike in case a cop decides the helmet does not comply without an E1 sticker. 

“What this demonstrates is that the people who own this new legislation are not fully conversant with it or how it will be applied,” he says.

CLICK HERE for a link to all the new Queensland motorcycle rules that become law from February 1. Print it out and keep it with you. It may be a good insurance policy.

Even a police media spokesman admitted that there could be teething problems, but said all police had been alerted to the new rules affecting riders.

Other February 1 rules include lane filtering and rider controls that now allow riders to stretch a leg, stand on uneven road surfaces and turn their head to check for traffic.

Strangely, all of these common rider practices were previously outlawed. 

  1. Currently helmets do not require an external compliance sticker in Queensland according to a letter from the Transport Minister’s office to the president of MRA-Q in 2012 in which the information had then be shared with the QPS.

  2. ECE 22.05 doesn’t require an external sticker. Just an internal label.

    From the regs:
    “In order to be considered as approved under this Regulation,
    subject to the provisions of paragraph 9. below, every protective
    helmet shall bear, sewn to its retention system, one of the
    labels referred to in paragraph 5.1.4. above. A different method
    of securing the label is authorized if it complies with the above
    provisions. ”

    My UK Purchased Shoei xr1100 has only a gold “ACU” sticker on the outside.
    UK SHOEI Importer (Feridax) advised “The ACU gold sticker applied to the outside shell is required only if you intend on using the helmet for competition or on a race track in the UK and has no bearing on the legality on public roads. EC2205 was introduced in UK nearly 10 years ago and it is the standard that all helmets in the UK must comply with if they are to be legal to use. The label that signifies that your helmet is EC2205 approved will be sewn onto the chin strap.”

    (Sample photo from AGV helmet attached)

    In addition to ECE or any other standard, take a look at SHARP testing results and ratings here:
    (Why I wear my EC2205R Shoei XR1100 (5 stars) instead of my AU1698 Shoei XR1000 (3 stars)!

  3. It’s probably fair to say that bike shops like ours will now see a dive in helmet sales unless we are allowed to sell the EU approved helmets too…

    1. I think you are right Matt, you need to let the ACCC and the federal small business minister know of your concerns.

      It is only the governement that can put pressure the departments to sort this out.

  4. The problem of helmet certification, sale and use is particularly problematic due to deficient law wording.
    The intent of the law in all states is to have a rider use a safe helmet and this of cause is exactly what all should be doing, however the devil is in the wording. Because the Federal government has not changed the laws for sale since 1990 it is still illegal to sell a helmet that is not tested to the 1988 version of AS1698 . No helmets since 2007, when Standards Australia stopped allowing testing to the 1988 standard, have been tested to this standard hence none comply with the law for sale although the Federal law seems not to have been willing to implement the law.
    Helmet importers and sellers have made contact with the Federal Department but to date cannot get any response on whether current AS helmets and in Queensland, ECE helmets are legal for sale. This leaves sellers not knowing if they are liable to prosecution. The lack of response to their legitimate concerns is extremely confusing.
    With the introduction of the ECE standard in Queensland the issue gets to be even more of a problem, not because these helmets are not safe, in fact it can be argued that they are safer than an AS only certified helmet. The problem extension comes from the actual wording of the Queensland law.
    The Queensland wording states “complies with” and “bears a label, or similar mark, indicating compliance” it does not state tested to.
    The DOT helmet above has an indication that it complies with ECE 22.05 and hence could comply with the wording of the law. This helmet and a lot of others showing the same in the USA do not mean that they have been tested to the standard only that they comply with it and hence most likely will not have the E circle mark indicating tested to.
    Does this helmet meet the law in Queensland? – Currently we do not know.
    Does it match what the law writers intended? – Probably not. Because it was probably intended that they want tested to helmets not what they actually wrote i.e. “complies with”.
    Additionally, the simple reliance in law wording of reference to a standard that is written for the purpose of clarifying what is acceptable for sale and then using it as a point for enforcement for use is flawed without further clarification in the law.
    When other issues of enforcement like infringements being issued for faded labels and superficial scratches are added to the mix we can easily see why all the motorcycling representative bodies from sellers to motor sports to end users are trying to get a complete resolution to all the matters.
    The ongoing frustration for all is the lack of willingness of all the law making parties to work together with the sellers and end users to resolve the whole mess and come up with a single set of laws that are both workable and unambiguous.
    To have found ourselves in this state is particularly concerning when we can all see that the use of a safe helmet should be made as simple as possible to ensure the maximum benefit to the people that matter the most – end users.

  5. I bought a lid back in 2012 in the states with DOT cert on the back..I don’t know if its legal but i still wear it far so good.

  6. A helmet is a helmet is a helmet, really who cares apart from the occasional
    wanker of a cop, The last time i was pulled over the cop looked at my helmet
    {with legal sticker attached } and accused me of putting it there myself’
    I told him he could follow me to the nearby shop where i bought it.
    Then i got the “we’ll i”ll let you off this time” speech, really you think
    they would have better things to do

  7. I cant find anything in UN ECE Regulation 22 revision 4 + amendment 1 that says that the number “22” is part of the label. This is dumb because it should be.

    The required bits to be sewn on are circle containing E and ridiculous made up non-standard country code.

    Then “05nnnnn” indicating an approval number conforming to the “05 series of amendments – Date of entry into force: 30 June 2000”. The current document is regulation 22 revision 4 dated 2002 with amendment 1 dated 2012 which requires the appended “/J” or “/P” or “/NP”.

    Then “-nnnnn” for production serial number.

    UN ECE needs a swift kick to toe the line with ISO.

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