Change coming to motorcycle helmet laws

Motorcycle helmets

Cheaper and safer helmets, consistency in helmet laws across states and a resolution to helmet cams and bluetooth mounts could be the result of a free forum next year.

Standards Australia has invited members of the public to participate in the February forum in Sydney to discuss changes to helmet laws.

It is an opportunity to finally bring some sanity to helmet laws which are currently over-governed, confusing and causing riders to be erroneously fined by police who misinterpret the rules and regulations.

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.

motorcycle helmet noise - Motorcycle helmet lawsHowever, Australian Motorcycle Council spokesman Guy Stanford says, while he is hopeful and optimistic, he fears the forum “is a game of market protection”.

“The forum is only going to deal with how standards are referenced in legislation. Standards Australia will have their own agenda. There will be a series of speakers and who they are will set the agenda. Possibly none of us will be able to speak. We don’t know what their agenda will be.”

Standards Australia spokesperson Alison Scotland says the agenda has not yet been finalised. “However we will be selecting speakers to present on particular items of interest, both within the standard AS/NZS 1698 and outside Standards Australia’s scope (i.e. regulatory requirements across jurisdictions),” she says.

“During the course of the forum, we will hold an open discussion, which will allow attendees the opportunity to contribute and participate.”

The forum comes in the wake of recent changes in Queensland to helmet laws where the Australian testing requirement was axed in preference for United Nations standards. That means helmets approved in Japan, Europe and America will be acceptable. This is likely to lead to cheaper helmets, but it could also lead to Queensland riders being fined for non-compliant helmets when riding interstate.

Alison says the forum is not in response to the Queensland amendments: “Standards Australia decided to host this forum in an attempt to see more harmonisation of regulatory requirements across jurisdictions and to look at ways to further develop the Australian Standard (AS/NZS 1698:2006) and harmonise it with other standards in the world.”

It also follows and conforms with the Federal Government’s desire to cut business red tape such as Australian standards which differ from international standards. The “Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda” supports a lower cost, business-friendly environment by the acceptance of international standards.

Interphone F5XT Bluetooth for motorcycle helmets - Fatigue - Motorcycle helmet laws

In recent moves under this reform agenda, the ADR minimum requirement for rear mudguards was axed in preference to international standards. The requirement for axing Australian standards is that our safety standards are not jeopardised.

Standards Australia is now hosting the “Protective Helmets for Vehicle Users” forum to discuss changes to the current AS/NZS 1698:2006 standards and “work towards finding an acceptable solution for industry, consumers, regulators and government authorities”. Unfortunately, there is no mention of the user who currently cops the fine for non-compliance.

Discussions will focus on: “International and regional harmonisation; regulatory harmonisation across jurisdictions; and matters related to safety, certification and supply.”

If the public is allowed to speak, it should lead to some sanity and consistency in our vague and complicated helmet laws and hopefully put an end to riders being fined for wearing GoPros. 

Alison says these matters may be discussed at the forum. “Ultimately these are matters for the stakeholders to raise and it’s our job to distil the information and look for ways forward.”

The free forum will be held on February 19 from 9.30am to 2pm at Standards Australia, Level 10, 20 Bridge Street, Sydney.

Bookings are essential by the January 30 deadline via email


  1. The level of misleading and straight out, wrong information, which have been put forward here as fact is disgraceful.
    There is one standard acceptable across all the states, it is the Australian standard 1698, whether it is AS or AS/N ZS, the 1988 or 2006 version of that document, it is semantics. The performance requirements, such as impact and penetration resistance are the same across both version. the state governments are just slow to change the Use requirements to align with the most current version of the standard.
    The concept of introducing the European standard into the Australia market would mean an influx of Chinese made helmets, which display the ECE 22-05 Marking but in reality have never been independently tested to that regulation. In other words they would be dumped onto this market. Currently helmets being exported to Australia and New Zealand are sampled at 4/400 and established models 4/1000 and batch tested against the impact, penetration, retention strength and marking and labeling. Where possible samples are taken for the completed batch by an independent person from outside the company.
    If the law is changed to accept ECE 22-05 this independent batch release testing will cease. The main reason is that there is no laboratory in Australasia which has the accreditation or equipment to perform this testing. The manufacturers will produce test data which appear to support the product compliance but this data will be from their own in house test facility and are therefore not independent or objective. Any Quality Manager in China who reports failed test results to his boss will find themselves without a position the following day

    1. Kimboli – admit it, you work for SAI Global right? 🙂

      To throw around comments like “…would mean an influx of Chinese made helmets, which display the ECE 22-05 Marking but in reality have never been independently tested to that regulation…” without any proof of allegation is the real disgrace!

      You do realise that pretty much every helmet for sale in Australia is still made in China, right? In fact they are made in the same factories as the ones being sold in Europe with ECE labels on them. They are just segregated because of the ridiculous “Standard” that is imposed on us here in AU.

      Yes – batch testing by SAI & the like will stop if the national legislation is amended. However it will continue by the very same bodies that are currently accredited globally. So the only change will be that the companies who had the market cornered here will stop getting a free hand-out.

      Stop scare-mongering – people’s heads will not explode if they wear an ECE 22-05 accredited lid! Just ask Rossi, Marquez, etc – they ALL wear ECE 22-05 approved lids.

  2. Why on earth do we re – test helmets that have already been tested in Europe, Japan and/or the United States (or anywhere elsewhere that conducts comprehensive testing)? Have Australian tests actually resulted in design changes?

    By the way, the same should go for bicycle helmets.

  3. Simply abolish both AS/NZS 1698 (Protective helmets for vehicle users) and AS/NZS 1609 ( Eye Protectors for motor cyclists and racing car drivers).

    Their usefulness has long passed. They add ZERO value to our society. They are no more than outmoded protectionist measures.

    Simples 🙂

  4. If you check Motorcycling Australia’s ‘Manual of Motorsport’ or ‘MOMs’, you will find that Camera’s are legal, especially for road racing. Rule Helmet cameras may be fitted providing the mounting to the helmet will allow the camera to detach if impacted upon and the attachment method must not impair the integrity or operation of the helmet.

  5. what a load of rubbish….most users of helmet cams do so to capture footage to be used as evidence in a crash as more often than not it will be disputed regardless (that’s the only reason I have one after a disputed crash where the driver was at fault).

    Yes there is the wanker factor showing off for the camera.

    So if this is upheld then how the hell do the police get away with having cameras or tinted visors fitted to their helmets?

    Another bureaucratic mess to go along wit the stupidity of the other helmet standards & compliance.

  6. If many other countries accept international standards without question, then why is Australia out of step?

    If our standards are the best to be had, then why aren’t they the benchmark across the world?

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but manufacturers would only produce a product with one level of quality for sale across the world would they not? This might be an uninformed comment, but would it be worth altering quality for different markets that may invite criticism for an inferior product?

    In reverse, are our standards accepted across the world without question because the are superior?

  7. Great to see overseas helmets becoming legal in Queensland, I have been wearing a US purchased Arai for years. Riders are sick of the Australia Tax we are paying on all locally purchased products. Same helmet Australia $850 USA $500.

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