If you want to get into the Christmas spirit with a novelty Santa helmet cover, most police will not play Scrooge and fine you for a non-compliant helmet.
However, there are points of safety to consider which could lead to fine, if not observed.
Novelty helmet covers
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.”
However, it’s worth noting that it could still be illegal if you are involved in a crash while wearing one.
ACT Police 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 own website,” they say.
VicPol at first simply replied: “It is not illegal to put a hat over the helmet”.
Several days later they updated their comment saying 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.
Helmet cover pros and cons
Apart from being fun on many occasions, not just Christmas, novelty helmet covers have some practical advantages.
They protect your helmet from dust, scratches and chips, as well as reducing wind noise.
However, riders should also be aware that there are some disadvantages.
They can also suppress important surrounding noises such as emergency sirens or the sound of screeching tyres.
They also reduce ventilation which would make them stiflingly hot on a summer’s day, especially if being worn in a slow-moving toy run procession.
Since they are not securely fastened to the helmet, they can also flap around and shift at high speeds, potentially blocking your vision.
Most suppliers recommend they not be worn on the highway, but only at city speeds.
Travis Yap of Victoria bought a novelty helmet cover and he was concerned about its legality after reading articles about riders being fined for having painted helmets or attachments such as cameras and Bluetooth units.
His Santa Claus cover simply slips over the helmet and has elastic on the bottom to hold it in place. There are no screws, velcro, glues or other attachments.
“I purchased it just for the silly season because it is a bit of fun,” Travis says.
“I expect it will get rather hot under there. I usually just commute to work so maybe I can put up with it for 20 minutes.”