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Riders to access gear safety ratings

Helmet safety motorcycle crash accident ratings

Motorcyclists will soon know how safe their riding gear is after the launch today of a 12-month pilot program to establish a safety ratings system.

The five-star ratings will be available online and will be similar to crash ratings for vehicles and energy efficiency ratings for appliances.

Deakin University’s Institute for Frontier Mate has been appointed to develop the independent five-star ratings system.

Dr Chris Hurren explains use of one of the uni’s testing machines ratings
Dr Chris Hurren explains use of one of the uni’s testing machines

Senior researcher for motorcycle safety, Liz de Rome, says the university group has been randomly testing samples of motorcycle gear for about eight years.

“We have found that a lot of clothing failed in either road crashes or in laboratory tests,” she says.

The 12-month pilot testing program will now develop the official five-star ratings system, she says.

“We are testing random samples of clothing that is available to riders and these tests will validate how we rank and rate them in a fair and appropriate way.”

The ratings system will be governed by an independent national authority which will make the ratings publicly available online.

Manufacturers and importers will not be compelled to display the ratings, but they will be able apply to the authority for labels that rate their products.

Australian Motorcycle Council chairman Shaun Lennard applauds the pilot program.

Shaun Lennard safety barriers national ratings
Shaun Lennard with all the safety gear

Voluntary ratings

He rejects concerns that the ratings system could lead to mandatory requirements for riders to wear a certain level of protection when riding.

“It’s all voluntary. We’re only hoping that it will lead to consumer-driven demand (for products with a high star rating), which in turn manufacturers will want to be part of,” Shaun says.

I think any authorities would agree that mandating a standard would just be too difficult to regulate, which is why they’ve been happy to be part of this idea.

“The AMC would strongly resist any attempt to make anything other than a helmet mandatory.”

The university working group is now blind-testing randomly selected motorcycle clothing at the uni’s Waurn Ponds campus at Geelong. Testing staff will not know what brand they are testing.

Safety ratings system
Worn motorcycle clothing material after a uni abrasion test

AMC spokesman Brian Wood says they have been supporting the testing program since its beginning about eight years ago and continue to be involved in the working group.

“The testing of clothing and the eventual development of a ratings system will give riders more information and help them to make an informed choice when selecting their protective clothing,” he says.

“Riders need to be clear that the ratings system is different to having a mandated standard.

“The AMC would never support introduction of a standard as this would be inappropriate with Australia’s diverse climate.

“We much prefer a system that provides a market incentive for manufacturers to improve the quality of their gear, and helps riders make informed decisions about what is best for them.

“The Australian Motorcycle Council supports providing riders with information about protective clothing that will allow them to make informed choices about the level of protection and thermal comfort they are purchasing.”

Read the AMC’s Position Statement on protective clothing here.

The motorcycle clothing rating system is a partnership with the following: from NSW – Transport for NSW, SIRA and the NRMA; from Victoria – VicRoads, TAC and RACV; from South Australia – DPTI, MAC and RAA; from Queensland – TMR and RACQ; from Western Australia – the Western Australian Road Safety Commission; plus the Australian Motorcycle Council and the New Zealand Accident Compensation Corporation.

  1. This is all good and it is the right approach. Shaun Lennard has gained my respect because of his comments. The people who want mandatory ATGATT, many of whom are ‘drama queen’ recreational riders who only ride on good roads in good weather, are narrow minded and lack understanding of the broad diversity that exists in motorcycling. They think that what, when, where and how they ride is everything that there is to do with motorcycling and that what suits them has to suit everybody. One of my regular motorcycle ‘journeys’ is about 100 metres without exceeding 30km/h (bicycle riders go faster than that). You say, “What! Only 100 metres. Why don’t you walk?” I park my bike in the street while I go to numerous businesses in the CBD, then ride the short distance to an undercover supermarket car park so I can access my bike with the shopping trolley and be out of the sun or rain while carefully packing the groceries onto my bike (space is limited). It is unreasonable to expect me to get my jacket and gloves out of the top box and put them on while standing it the hot sun (this is the tropics), then take them of, fold them and put them back in the top box for such a short journey. And this is just one simple example of when ATGATT is impractical.

    As I have said before – You do it your way and I’ll do it mine. I won’t try to force my way on you, and you shouldn’t try to force your way on me. But together we should work to preserve freedom of choice and oppose any further restrictions.

    1. I’d be obliged if they got rid of the silly helmet laws and we could ride the way our American brothers can. Keep the AS/NZS rating as a recommendation for sure, and if MotoCAP can rate them I’d be very interested, but don’t tell me I have to have a helmet for my 2-3km rides to and from a grocery store. If I want to get killed in an accident it ought to be my own choice, not the government’s choice.

      1. Hi,
        It’s a common misconception that Americans can ride without helmets.
        19 states require all riders to wear helmets, anyway.
        Most states without mandatory helmet laws require riders who choose to ride without helmets to have a certain amount of health insurance and have appropriate eyewear, while riders under 21 are not exempt from wearing helmets.

        1. If you ride without a helmet and have an accident there is a reasonable chance you will end up with a brain injury that will cost the taxpayer millions of dollars over your now pathetic remainder of life. I for one don’t want to fund you for the rest of your life just because you didn’t want to wear a helmet.

          As you can guess I believe helmet use should remain mandatory.

  2. I too only ride a couple of K’s to do some shopping and don’t go above 50-60Kph on country roads with hardly any traffic. I would give up riding altogether if safety gear became compulsory. I feel that 10 minutes to dress then 10 minutes again to remove the gear just for a 5 minute ride is ridiculous. Sensible, defensive riding is a better solution.

  3. The article makes a very good point RE diverse range of climatic conds in Australia… I. E. In the far northern parts of Queensland it would be ludicrous to wearFUll gear in summer as the humidity is so extreme: as a rider you would beplacing yourself at a very high risk of heat stroke… The humidity you will face from Rockhampton ( central Qld) and north(wards) makes it exceptionally uncomfortable in summer to wear jackets, fully lined jeans etc..that TV show on ABC (or was it sbs) that covered motorcycle gear /safety ratings summed it up perfectly. That said coming from the stinking heat of nth Qld, I know I would still wear proper boots and gloves in the northern heat.

  4. Excellent idea. If food can have a health rating of 1 to 5 then why shouldn’t motorcycle gear be the same. As I understand it some of the gear people buy thinking it will protect them is essentially useless and gives them a false sense of safety.

    Because we do not have any rating system I end up buying all my gear from European makers which are certified to appropriate CE rating systems.

    I find that properly developed gear works well in all weather conditions. I’ve ridden in my adventure gear from 0 degrees to 45 degrees as measured by the thermometer on the bike. Same gear just with different liners and vents open or closed. Even though the European stuff costs 2-3 times the cheap Asian stuff I feel it is worth every cent from a safety and comfort perspective.

    If suitable standard ratings were visible on all bike clothing I might consider buying other brands.

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