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.
However, 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.
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.