Several days after saying novelty helmet covers were legal, VicPol has thrown doubt on the issue saying it had to be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
At first they simply replied: “It is not illegal to put a hat over the helmet”.
Five days later VicPol updated their comment saying it is “not possible to provide a blanket yes or no answer to your query, as it must be assessed on an individual basis”.
They suggest the following points could impact on the compliance:
The correct fitment is highly unlikely as the covers are “one size fits all’ and not manufactured for specific brand / model helmets.
The cover has the potential to impede vision through the visor when fitted or whilst travelling.
The cover may prevent the rider from securing the helmet correctly through the helmet buckle.
The cover has the potential to move / fall off at speed.
Queensland and South Australia police say novelty helmet covers are legal:
Novelty helmet covers are not illegal, as long as the rider is wearing a motorcycle helmet that complies with Australian standards and is securely fastened. Riders will need to ensure that the novelty cover does not obscure their vision.
The Western Australia Road Safety Commission says riders are already vulnerable road users, at great risk on the roads.
“Wearing gear that might potentially make it harder for riders to spot other road users would not improve this situation,” they say.
However, there could be more doubt over their legality if you are involved in a crash while wearing one.
ACT Police say they would “take action against the user of the helmet cover if it contributed to an incident or collision (for example, if the cover impeded the vision of a rider)”.
“It is concerning to police that the manufacturers openly identify significant risks to the user of the product on their website,” they say.
Most riders wear novelty helmets as part of a fund-raising or at least fun-raising ride.
It would be a very belligerent copper who fined a rider over a helmet cover!
Helmet cover pros and cons
Apart from being fun on many occasions, not just Christmas, novelty helmet covers have some practical advantages.
They protect your helmet from dust, scratches and chips, as well as reducing wind noise.
However, riders should also be aware that there are some disadvantages.
They can also suppress important surrounding noises such as emergency sirens or the sound of screeching tyres.
They also reduce ventilation which would make them stiflingly hot on a summer’s day, especially if being worn in a slow-moving toy run procession.
Since they are not securely fastened to the helmet, they can also flap around and shift at high speeds, potentially blocking your vision.
Most suppliers recommend they not be worn on the highway, but only at city speeds.
Since most are only worn in charity parades, speed should not be an issue.