A NSW Harley tour operator is challenging his helmet fine and wants the state to follow Queensland’s example by accepting international helmet standards.
Steve Melchior of Just Cruisin’ Harley Tours is so convinced of the need to accept international standards he is preparing an expensive legal court challenge to his fine for wearing a non-compliant helmet without an Australian Standards sticker.
“The reason I use an American DOT approved helmet is that I wear a 3X size helmet and I have not found an Australian helmet that gives the same fit and comfort as the US helmet,” he says.
The lack of choice, especially large helmet sizes, is one of the main points of criticism of the restrictive Australian helmet laws that was raised at the February Standards Australia helmet forum.
Steve says he was recently booked by a Rose Bay highway patrol sergeant with a rather arrogant attitude.
“He advised me that I was the third person he had booked that day for the same offence and that he books more people for this offence than all his officers who are attached to his command,” he says.
“He also advised me that he was sick of sweeping people off the road who were wearing unapproved helmets. My lecture went for about eight minutes while my two customers were sitting in the direct sunlight with leather jackets on. He was not sympathetic at all about their distress.
“I hope he has recorded the conversation as I would like him to produce this at court.”
Steve says he intends to fight the fine ($311 and three demerit points) in court, pleading guilty with an explanation.
“I use a US-style open helmet with DOT approval due to the many varied types of customer I take, mainly international tourists from ages 8 to 100,” he says.
“In the event of an emergency with the customer I need quick communication and I am unable to hear if using a full-face helmet which is what I was advised to use by the booking officer.
“Some of my customers have never travelled on a bike before so it is important to give them the reassurance that I can hear them if a problem occurs.”
Steve says the Rose Bay officer told him that Illawarra and Sutherland police do not fine riders for helmet offences. He has been using similar style helmets for more than six years in the area where his tours operate without being fined.
Steve has held a motorcycle licence since 1968, has operated his motorcycle trike tour business in the Illawarra area for six years and has been doing tours for 22 years.