Helmet camera laws are being tested in a Victorian Magistrates’ Court where a rider is defending a fine of $289 and three demerit points for “failure to wear an approved helmet”.
Defendant Max Lichenbaum’s case was put forward in the Frankton Magistrates Court this morning. Malcolm Cumming of Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, explained that the arguments being made on behalf of Mr Lichtenbaum are twofold.
Firstly, the Australian Standard only applies to the manufacturer and point of supply of helmets, not to the end user. “Beyond the point of sale, the standards don’t provide a regulatory framework,” Malcolm says.
Secondly, because the road rules pick up the Australian Standard, the Standard must be freely available for the public to view on request. “However, to obtain access to the standards you have to pay a significant fee of about $90 to a private company,” he says. “If they are not publicly available, no one can be convicted on the basis of a failure to comply with the standard.”
UPDATE: Australian Motorcycle Council Helmets Committee Chair Guy Stanford says the cost is closer to $692. “To comprehend AS/NZS 16982006, it is necessary to also understand the other standards referenced within its text. Current lookup on the SAI Global website for the exact cost if all were purchased today (based on downloadable PDF for personal use only, assumption that amendments are free which they all appear to be and ignoring other similar standards with similar names but not mentioned in that list):
AS/NZS 1698:2006 $47
AS 1609-1981 $55
AS/NZS 2512.1:2009 $111
AS/NZS 2512.2:2006 $35
AS/NZS 2512.3.1:2007 $47
AS/NZS 2512.4:1998 $22
AS/NZS 2512.5.1:2008 $36
AS/NZS 2512.6:2006 $22
AS/NZS 2512.7.2:2009 $47
BS ISO 6658:2005 $270
The Frankston Magistrate adjourned the matter until February, during which time, further investigations will be conducted about the availability of the standard.
Malcolm says that if the Magistrate finds for them on the second argument it would have further ramifications on other issues where the road rules reference the standards.
”Another topical issue is visors,” he says. “I believe there has been a spate of riders being booked for wearing a tinted visor. My understanding is that there is similar reliance upon a standard and so a similar logic would apply.”
The defendant was booked in March while riding in Frankston with a GoPro on his helmet. He was fined only for the helmet camera “offence”.
“An unusual feature of the event was that at the time the policeman was being filmed for a New Zealand produced reality police TV show,” Malcolm says.
Also in court to observe was a bike travel company representative and a member of the bicycle community. While a different standard applies to bicycle helmets, they may have similar issues with the road rules.
Meanwhile, motorcycle riders around Australia will be paying attention to the result of this test case after riders in Victoria and NSW have been fined for wearing helmet cameras.
However, the matter may be circumvented by an Australian Standards forum in early February which is tipped to discuss the issue.
Helmet cameras are legal in the US and UK.