Rider to contest fine for GoPro on helmet

Matt's Kawasaki and the Victorian Police challenges GoPro helmet camera fine

The motorcycle rider fined for wearing a GoPro on his HJC helmet plans to fight the charge.

Matt Smithson was fined $289 and three demerit points for wearing a non-complying helmet, even though the laws are vague about attaching anything to a helmet. “I’ve called the officer and asked if she wishes to change her mind about the fine, but she’s on leave at the moment,” he says.

“If she won’t then I will ring Maurice Blackburn Lawyers who have said they will help be out pro bono (free of charge).”

Matt should have a pretty good case. MotorbikeWriter has contacted every police service in Australia and the general reply is that it is ok to attach a camera or Bluetooth unit to a helmet so long as it doesn’t obstruct vision and you don’t drill holes in it as that would affect the “structural integrity” of the helmet.

Victorian Police who fined Matt gopro
Victorian Police who fined Matt

The West Australian police probably summed it up best: “Helmets can not be modified (i.e. drilling holes etc is prohibited) however there is no reason that a camera or communications device couldn’t be attached so long as the helmet did not need to be modified to accept the attachment. Many helmets have the facility to fit Bluetooth devices and camera devices usually with a clamping system that allow attachment without modification of the helmet. Any attachment must not obstruct the vision of the rider, have the potential to injure the rider or affect their control of the vehicle.”

The Tasmanian police service adds that “things stuck or attached to a helmet in a temporary way would not usually invalidate” Australian Standard AS/NZS 1698. “It is only more permanent modifications that would, such as drilling or screwing into the helmet, which may have an impact on its structural integrity or that would impact its ability to roll.”

None of the contacted police services could find an example of someone being fined for attaching a GoPro or other device, except Victoria. The Victorian and South Australian police service seem to have a slightly different view.

A Victorian Police road policing and public transport safety spokeswoman says it all hinges on the approval of the helmet manufacturer. “If the fitting of a camera or other instrument compromises the helmet’s compliance with Australia and New Zealand standards, then an offence may be committed. If someone has concerns about whether the fitting of a device to a helmet complies with the current standards, they should speak to the manufacturer of the helmet,” she says. “Anything added to a helmet alters its specifications and can only be added if approved by the manufacturer.”

The South Australian police agree but admit there is “no simple answer to this”. “It is very complex and involves Australian (design) standards for helmets and relevant state legislation. In answer to your question, SAPOL does not recommend damaging the structural integrity of any helmet by drilling holes into it.

Matt's HJC helmet with gopro
Matt’s HJC helmet

“Any changes to the original design and structure of the original helmet may have an effect of the structural integrity of that helmet in relation to how it was originally designed and tested to comply with the standards. Any changes made could affect the original design compliance and make the helmet non compliant and as such illegal. Any changes would require a compliance certificate from the individual helmet manufacturer.”

Matt’s GoPro was stuck on with the supplied fittings. He has contacted HJC for advice and is awaiting a reply. Meanwhile, we contacted the HJC helmet distributor, McLeod Accessories, for advice.

Spokesman Damien Irwin says they have no problems with anyone attaching a camera or Bluetooth to their helmets so long as it didn’t involve drilling holes.

“Obviously you don’t want to attach too much and have too much weight on your helmet. Some common sense has to be involved,” he says. “The manufacturers would probably play safe and recommend that you don’t (attach anything) but the bottom line is the world’s top racers use GoPros in race events around the world with no detrimental effects.

Matt's HJC helmet with gopro
Matt’s HJC helmet

“The police force even put their police comms into their helmets that we provide which requires them to modify their helmets.”

The 27-year-old electrician says he only fitted the GoPro  to his new HJC helmet the previous night and has always ensured he has his GoPro on after an accident a year earlier with a truck where the driver disputed he had not given Matt right of way.

It’s not as if Matt makes a habit of being run in by the law. In nine years of driving and riding, he has only coped one speeding ticket and that was the day after an 80km/h zone was changed to 70km/h and he was sprung doing 77km/h.

So he has a very strong case if this ever goes to a court.

Is it legal? Read this story. Is it safe? Read this story.

 

33 Comments

  1. Just got booked last week by NSW Highway patrol between Kempsey and Coffs Harbour for having a helmet cam. Camera was fitted to helmet via velcro, HWP told me it was illegal to modify a helmet in any manner, and that Velcro was a modification as it constituted having a sticker on my helmet which was against the Australian design rules. I am intrigued by this as the Australian standards sticker on all helmets is….a sticker! He also told me that the height of the camera is above the 5mm allowed as an object extending outside the helmet under the ADR, and that the police a reviewing whether communications devices are also illegal for that reason. Any advice on appealing the fine would be most welcome

  2. How is that fair. I saw a motorbike officer with a drift hd attached to his helmet. Case and point! I even have video evidence from my chin bar mounted go pro

  3. And I thought the laws were stupid in the UK… It seems ours are tame by comparison.

    I agree with the majority, it’s all about continuous improvement… Just because something has always been, it doesn’t mean that it is valid now as it was when introduced. And should be challenged.. Good on you for challenging them.

    I use a road hawk rider cam on my helmet… See attached image..

  4. Convenient!! Booking officer is on leave. Just one more chess move in time wasting the public. Matt, do your homework, get the written advise from helmet manufacturer and plead not guilty. It takes time, I got off a traffic offense, but only after nearly 12 months of tooing and froing. I was rung up by the booking officer on the morning of the court appearance and was told that ‘We are not proceeding” Not that I was not guilty – I even had to request from the courthouse a copy of the decision as notification was received from cops

  5. it is legal to film in public provided there is no audio. it is illegal to record audio without permission. but you can film whatever you please.

  6. If cops are allowed to wear it on their helmets why can’t the general public? If it’s fitted correctly what’s the problem? These days car drivers can have a camera fitted to protect them for proving who was at fault in an accident. So what’s the difference as far as having the consent to be filming the public etc? These cameras are sold with head cam mounts. So if this is not allowed why are they being sold? Are police going to start recalling all these products?

  7. James, all of that applies if the camera is being used to make money or for public viewing.
    If it’s for private viewing or just in case of an accident then it’s fine.
    The biggest problem the rider has is the helmet loses it’s ability to roll in an accident, and this is part of the test process to meet AS1698.

  8. Well James maybe then we should be checking if the Police also have the right documentation to hide at the side of highways with cameras whilst traffic wizzes by at 100 kmh . Over the years I have seen innumerable instances of police hiding behind bushes and signs and numerous other things , and I can guarantee that there is no way this would be anywhere near the safety requirements you point out . This is just plain stupid the camera is for his safety these cameras are now in just about every car and I see no reason why a motorbike rider should not have them as well . In some countries Insurance Companies will not pay out a claim unless it can be backed up with video evidence . Power to the people , I would nearly go so far to say that the police do not want these on bikes in case the footage is used to prove some wrong doing on the police part hmmmm .

  9. yeah your right , lets all just lie down and take another kick in the teeth from the powers that be,,,,,. i say to hell with your attitude even though you have shown us the rules and regs in line and paragraph, i am not an anarchist but jesus can we please stop allowing bureaucrats to dictate our life and stifle everything we do, we ride motorbikes so we can enjoy the feeling of freedom like you felt with your first bicycle where you were allowed to leave the safe confines of your backyard and go to your friends house and live a little, establish your independance and not have to answer to a greater power for a brief few hours, and please dont tell me to grow up. i am 44 and ive been riding high powered bikes most of my life, these power hungry nobody’s have to have some lines drawn in the sand, we are not bikies or gangsters , we are every day people who ride our bikes to work and we want to be effin left alone.

  10. James With?? So all of these cars now going around with traffic safety cams on their dash are also breaking the law due to (all above points listed by you)? It looks to me as though you have cut and pasted a whole lot of info on stunt riding/driving and filming instead of actually researching.

  11. Are they serious??? For crying out loud the WA police also have “unmarked” bikes now with camera’s on the and come on their helmets for catching drivers using Ph’s while driving……

  12. Well I sell contour cameras and Sena Bluetooth units to Qld police for their helmets so I’m guessing that it won’t get to far up here. But then again with Campbell Newman it power that doesn’t mean anything.
    Do as I say not as I do.

  13. I saw an article that police were going to put camera’s on police helmets to catch people using their phones while driving, all while riding un-marked BIKES ?

  14. Filming anywhere in public requires permissions and permits and must be compliant with the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations and other Acts as applicable in each state of Australia that the filming is being conducted in and there are a whole lot of things to consider on a very long check list.

    This includes and is not limited to:
    Regarding scenes with scripted action requiring someone to drive motor vehicles.
    – All picture vehicles to be roadworthy, registered, insured and suitable for scripted action.
    – All stunt/action vehicles should be checked by the Stunt Coordinator / Safety Supervisor to ascertain their suitability for the scripted action. Modification and/or repairs may be required.
    – All action vehicles need to be regularly maintained, (maintenance log book should be kept). The vehicle should have good steering, foot and hand brakes, tyres, suspension, and be in good condition mechanically.
    – Vehicles should be warmed up prior to action sequences.
    – People driving vehicles are to possess current appropriate drivers license & be given sufficient time for familiarization with the vehicle, & action required under identical conditions.
    – People required to drive should be checked for proficiency in the type of action to be carried out. It may be necessary for instruction to be given by the Stunt Coordinator, Safety Supervisor, Vehicle Coordinator or owner. If any reason an actor is unable to drive, then a suitable experienced driver double and/or low loader/trailer rig will be required.

    Regarding scenes filmed on / next to road (other than private) locations.
    – People should exercise extreme caution, especially when loading / unloading equipment fro Essential Trucks / Vehicles.
    – People should be provided with & wear reflective traffic vests as per WA Main Roads Code of Practice – Traffic Management for Roadwork’s.

    And there’s more… so the guy should forget about contesting this, as the police department is most likely going to win in the court room and the cost and risks associated with fighting such an infringement notice (even if a pro bono deal is struck with a legal representative) will stack up.

    Move on …

    1. Wow, you’re serious lol. Where’d you cut and paste that drivel from?

      Of course he should contest it. He’s riding normally, and capturing vision for safety, something that does not require disclaimers and asking every person you ride past to sign a waiver.

      Less time reading, and more time in the real world you doofus.

      1. I agree! Stand up for basic human rights instead of handing them all over without a fight. I’m sure he isn’t filming a movie…sheesh!

    2. You’ve listed a lot of requirements for filming in public here, but they are not necessarily applicable to the general public.
      I don’t see every Australian going out and getting a permit to film whilst they are on holiday, etc.
      There is a good case here for Matt and I hope he wins because everyone has the right to film whatever activity they are partaking in for their own enjoyment.
      Let’s face it, Australia is a little bit of a nanny state.

    3. “Regarding scenes with scripted action requiring someone to drive motor vehicles.”
      Don’t think Matt had a script.

      This legislation regards filming for gain, otherwise everyone had better pack a Hi-Vis vest and privacy waivers in their camera bags.

    4. Why are you quoting rules that obviously apply to people or companies (the entertainment industry) recording footage as part of a production? I would expect someone in the entertainment industry to have a better understanding of this rather major difference. Those are also OH&S rules for someone in a workplace.

      OH&S doesn’t apply to in these cases and different rules apply to members of the public taking photographs or footage in public, including of other members of the public for non commercial use.
      There are some restrictions but none that immediately jump to mind, particularly since recording trips in vehicles for insurance purposes is quite common, particularly by people who’ve been caught out when they’ve been in the right and the other party has been able to avoid taking responsibility.

      The guy has a strong case to fight this ridiculous ticket.

    5. Are you bloody kidding me? Buddy get your facts right I studied law and have license in private investigations funny thing is you’ve selected parts of the acts that are not valid or in function anymore and are written so wrong in a way it doesn’t follow common law. You are allowed to have a camera filming in public and private areas with your camera filming visually and verbally. Even allowed to have hidden cameras. The only places deemed illegal are, toilets, bathrooms, baby changing rooms, government establishments with security protocols, after a verbal not a signed request a verbal request from the land owner. There is more but for what you state seems like you read everything wrong within the legislation. Maybe you need to either shut up and mind your own business or let me have a go at you in person with my body cam attached to my uniform. Asshole.

  15. keep up the great work fellas I love getting my emails from yous-keeps me up to date with everything -thanks again -cheers breno

  16. So, the cop getting around Melbourne on the Hayabusa, in all black leathers, black helmet with black tinted visor, complete with a camera mounted on the helmet, he should be ticketed too then?

  17. What’s wrong with these COP’S from QPS (Qld), they seem to be on some kind of POWER-TRIP. I use to work real close to many QPS officers and found them to be a good bunch mostly, but now there seems the be this air of Power drunkeness!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *