It seems riders with big heads can wear helmets not compliant under Australian Standards after a NSW Harley tour operator successfully challenged his helmet fine.
Steve Melchior of Just Cruisin’ Harley Tours took his fine ($311 and three demerit points) for wearing a non-compliant helmet to court and the case was dismissed.
“It was due to me having a letter from my doctor advising that my head size was 63cm,” he says.
“I am now allowed to use a DOT-approved helmet, so anyone with a head size 62cm and above can wear non 1698 approved helmets.”
He says the reason he uses an American DOT approved helmet is that he cannot find an Australian-approved helmet that gives the same fit and comfort as the US helmet.
The lack of choice, especially large helmet sizes, is one of the main points of criticism of the restrictive Australian helmet laws that was raised at the February Standards Australia helmet forum. Queensland and Victoria now allow Euro-approved helmets as well.
Steve was recently booked by a Rose Bay highway patrol sergeant with a rather arrogant attitude.
“He advised me that I was the third person he had booked that day for the same offence and that he books more people for this offence than all his officers who are attached to his command,” he says.
“He also advised me that he was sick of sweeping people off the road who were wearing unapproved helmets. My lecture went for about eight minutes while my two customers were sitting in the direct sunlight with leather jackets on. He was not sympathetic at all about their distress.”
“I use a US-style open helmet with DOT approval due to the many varied types of customer I take, mainly international tourists from ages 8 to 100,” he says.
“In the event of an emergency with the customer I need quick communication and I am unable to hear if using a full-face helmet which is what I was advised to use by the booking officer.
“Some of my customers have never travelled on a bike before so it is important to give them the reassurance that I can hear them if a problem occurs.”
Steve says the Rose Bay officer told him that Illawarra and Sutherland police do not fine riders for helmet offences. He has been using similar style helmets for more than six years in the area where his tours operate without being fined.
Steve has held a motorcycle licence since 1968, has operated his motorcycle trike tour business in the Illawarra area for six years and has been doing tours for 22 years.