Riders in Queensland will soon be able to wear internationally approved helmets, but they won’t be able to buy them from their favourite bike shop. And that could have serious safety implications.
In February, the Queensland Governor is expected to sign new laws which include axing the rules around Australian standards for helmets and permitting helmets with European, US and Japanese safety standards or any other helmet that adheres to United Nations standards.
However, Queensland retailers will still be bound by federal laws which only allow them to sell Australian-approved helmets.
That will leave Queensland riders to buy international-standard helmets over the internet or when overseas on holidays.
Australian Motorcycle Council helmets committee chair Guy Stanford confirms the anomaly.
“The mandatory standards prevent the sale of any helmet other than that defined by the commonwealth legislative instrument, consumer protection notice number 9 of 1990,” he says.
So if riders can’t buy the helmets from their favourite shop where they can try the helmet on for size, they will be forced to buy over the internet, which can be a safety issue, says Guy.
“Never buy a helmet you haven’t worn on your head,” he says.
“The strongest safety message I can give anyone is to buy a helmet that fits your head properly and you can’t do that over the web.”
Queensland retailers will either have to run the gauntlet of the law by importing and selling international standard helmets or wait for a resolution to this conundrum.
“Queensland helmet retailers can’t do a damn thing at this stage,” Guy says.
Resolution could be forthcoming with a couple of forums coming up in the New Year to discuss helmet laws although change in government laws notoriously moves at glacial pace.
Meanwhile, riders are being deprived of new and safe helmets as some international brands are waiting to see if the Australian standards change before entering this market, including brands such as Suomy, Touratech and the world’s first head-up display helmet from American company, Skully.
At the moment, it is not economically viable for manufacturers of niche helmets to gain expensive Australian certification for their helmets. It was one of the hold-ups on the reintroduction of the famous Bell brand for several years.
Meanwhile, Queensland riders who buy international-standard helmets will also run the risk of a fine for wearing a non-compliant helmet if they venture interstate.
You would hope police would be a bit lenient in these times of legal uncertainty … wouldn’t you!