We live in a rapidly changing world, especially in the area of technology for electronics. This has pitfalls for the regulation of any market and will always create grey areas where commonsense is needed.
Helmet Standards lag behind advances in technology and design as they take time to develop and test, more so than some other areas of life and so regulators and enforcement agencies are presented with problems.
The current AS1698, AS/NZS1698 and UNECE 22.05 helmet standards were written when helmet cameras and communications systems were not widely available and helmets manufactured to other standards were not able to be readily purchased. The world has changed, all standards are developed and roughly equivalent, rules need changing.
Care should be taken in fitting any accessories whether they are internally or externally fitted.
Drilling or screwing accessories into the shell of a helmet is not an appropriate method of fitting.
Internal accessories such as microphones and speakers should only be fitted into recesses provided by helmet manufacturers to ensure there is no chance they can cause injuries in the case of an accident.
External accessories such as cameras should only use detachable (frangible) mounts without any rigid projections which remain on the helmet to ensure there is no chance they can cause injuries in the case of an accident.
As of 2016 only the ACT has regulations governing the attachment of accessories to helmets.
Regulations set the standards for helmets, under the regulations offences are proscribed for breaching the regulations. The Helmet Offences page lists the proscribed offences for for breaches of road use regulations in each State.
Historically there was only one basic helmet offence in the road rules for each State. The States had handed the power to regulate the sale of helmets to the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth put in place the Australian Standard AS1698 and specified it as a mandatory standard for helmets offered for sale within Australia. This meant that any helmet offered for sale met the standard and hence only one offence was required, which was the offence of not wearing a helmet. The States simply specified that an approved helmet was required to be worn.
The States have over the past few years moved to specification of specific standards in their road use rules but have not fully updated the helmet proscribed offence provisions by adding additional proscribed offences. The result is we have a legal fiction of a rider being fined for an attachment on a helmet the fine indicates the rider was not wearing.
There are no proscribed offences governing the attachment of accessories to helmets.
There is no definition of what would constitute a modification to a helmet or what would cause a helmet certified to AS1698 or UNECE 22.05 to become not certified and there are no proscribed offences for modification of a helmet.
In any court proceedings the prosecution would have to provide evidence that a helmet fitted with a communications device or helmet camera constituted a non compliant helmet. It is a situation of innocent until proven guilty.
Helmets fitted with cameras have not been tested so there is no evidence available to prosecutors to present to a court.
Any infringement notice issued for attachment of accessories to helmets should be challenged.
Defence of any infringement should commence with a letter to the relevant state authority setting out the circumstances at the time of the offence and the facts of the regulations and proscribed offences.
There is a form letter for submission to NSW authorities on motorbike writer
If the infringement notice is not withdrawn then the second step is the court hearing and it would be wise to engage a solicitor. The most important aspect in engaging a solicitor is to ensure they review the precise wording of the regulations and proscribed offences. Success will depend on precise presentation of the facts.
The documents below have form letters for challenging infringements in each state and information for solicitors.
The links page has State Government fine review information links.