The Motorcycle Council of NSW has called for national road rules on helmet use that are separate to the current helmet standards so riders know where they stand on issues such as tinted visors and helmet cams.
Vice-chair Dr Bruce Campbell says the Australian product safety standard system for helmets “is broke”.
“What pisses riders off is that the standard is being used to punish us but being ignored by everyone else,” he says.
Speaking at the Australian Standards motorcycle helmet forum in Sydney today he said the current standard isn’t used by retailers, a fact verified by Simon Bell, a rider and assistant director of policy and standards with the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission. Simon said he could not recall one retailer being prosecuted for selling a non-compliant in the past five years.
Bruce told the forum: “Retailers are never asked to substantiate compliance prior to sale unless through a coroner. And all the coroner wants is to see if there is a sticker on it and then he’s happy.
“Riders have no faith in the compliance system in Australia. We do not know if they comply with a standard or not.”
He complained that police forces selectively and incorrectly used the flawed standard as a basis for regulation.
“We have riders being booked for tinted visors and cameras. This standard is being used to punish riders, rather than protect them.”
He called for regulatory standards on what is safe to change on a helmet or add to it.
“We need to prevent unsafe use and restrict unsafe modifications. The road rules must be consistent throughout Australia.
“We do not expect drivers to changes their seat belts every time they cross a border so why should riders have to change their helmets?”
He also addressed the issue of riders in some states being fined for a non-compliant helmet because they had fitted a tinted visor.
“We need them in Australia,” he says. “Sometimes I even wear sunglasses underneath a tinted visor for the glare.
“Wouldn’t it make more sense to have something in the road rules that say you shouldn’t use a tinted visor during certain hours of darkness?”
He also wants reference to communication devices and cameras being fitted to helmets included in the road rules.
“These in-service regulations must be separate to the helmet standards,” he says.
“Road rules on tinted visors and helmet cams should be separate to standards and then they only need to be updated once.”
Dan Leavy from the NSW Centre for Road Safety told the forum that they were doing a series of tests to see if helmet cameras are safe.
Professor Raphael Gzrebieta of the UNSW said a camera mounted on a helmet could exacerbate injuries in a crash by forcing your head to rotate faster.
A NSW police representative said they were policing for helmet cams because “our overall aim is to decrease the road toll”.
He said they were doing tests on the effect of helmet cams in a crash and pointed out that there was also an insurance issue involved, meaning an insurance company could refuse to pay for injuries if the helmet was made non-compliant by fitting a helmet camera.
However, another forum attendee pointed out that had already taken place. “What about the Queensland and WA police who wear helmet cams and have overcome Workcover insurance issues?”