Many riders like to get into the holiday spirit by wearing Santa, elf, Elmo or reindeer novelty helmet covers.
However, they could be a safety hazard, they may void your insurance and some police say they may be illegal.
Safety aspects of novelty covers
While novelty helmet covers may be fun and potentially protect your helmet from dust, scratches and chips, they could also be a safety hazard.
They can come loose and obscure your vision or become a choking hazard, especially at high speeds.
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.
But be aware that they can reduce ventilation which would make them stiflingly hot on a summer’s day in a slow-moving toy run procession.
They may also suppress important surrounding noises such as emergency sirens or the sound of screeching tyres.
Legal aspects of novelty covers
While we cannot find any legal reference in the Australian Road Rules to these novelty covers, police can still issue a ticket if they believe it is an offence.
So we contacted them for their interpretation of the road rules.
VicPol say 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.
WA Police did not respond, but the Western Australia Road Safety Commission says riders are already vulnerable road users and “wearing gear that might potentially make it harder for riders to spot other road users would not improve this situation”.
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.
Since most riders wear novelty helmets as part of a fund-raising or at least fun-raising ride, it would be a particularly belligerent Scrooge cop who fined a rider over a helmet cover!
Speaking of Scrooges: If you crash while wearing a novelty helmet cover, your insurance company may use it as an excuse to void your policy.