Australian Motorcycle Helmet Visors


Helmet visors are a problematic area for riders and regulators with improper policing in at least some Australian States. The standards for visors worldwide have not been changed over a long time, Australian Standard AS1609 has not been updated since 1982 despite the updating of the sun glasses optical standard AS1067 in 2003. In the US the visor standards are handled separately to the DOT helmet standard with local jurisdictions specifying their own standards. One standard used is the US safety glasses standard, the US VESC-8 visor standard has been dormant since 1980. In the UK and the EU, the goggle standard (EN 1938) is separate to visor and helmet standards and is aligned to sun glass classes 0, 1 and 2 which allow Visible Light Transmittance down to 18%.

Modern Developments

Manufacturing processes, optical coatings, anti-fog systems and now active tint systems have developed since the writing of the current standards. Manufacturers are looking towards implementation of Heads Up Displays (HUD). There is also the prospect of a workable visor windscreen wiper being placed into the market.

Inner and outer sun visors have been developed since all of the standards were written. There are valid questions over the safety of these devices. There is a proposed amendment for the UNECE 22.05 standard to include sun visors.

The change in the world from when standards were introduced to today is that it is now the manufacturers who are leading the push for better products where in the past they were dragged kicking and screaming to the standards table.

Standards Authorities need mechanisms for manufacturers to submit developments for incorporation into standards.

Visor Standards

The overlays opposite provide details for the standards relevant within Australia.

Tinted Visors

Tinted visors are allowed under AS1609 and UNECE 22.05 within set limits of Visible Light Transmittance (VLT) and coloration. These limits are shown in the standard overlays above. There is a proposed amendment to UNECE 22.05 to align the visor standard with goggle and sun glass standards. Measurement of the optical performance of a visor can only be performed in a test lab. For this reason the standard is applied at point of sale as riders and police cannot measure the performance. It is a manufacturer, not a rider liability. The minor defect system should be used, not fines.

Manufacturer Specifications

Manufacturers may specify visors to different standards according to the market the helmet and visor is sold into. The lack of a labelling requirement for visors under AS1609 means many visors do not state the standard they are compliant to and importers do not have statements of compliance from the manufacturers. This should change with the introduction of UNECE 22.05 helmets which has strict labelling requirements but without specification of VLT.

The overlays below provide the information known about visors from manufacturers.

AGV Arai Bell HJC Nolan Oneal Rjays Schuberth Scorpion Shark Shoei Suomy THH

Motorcycle visors are the only application where manufacturers do not specify the VLT of a lens.

Helmet Visor Regulation Enforcement

There is only one proscribed helmet offence in most States which is the offence of not wearing any helmet. Police in some States have been writing these infringement notices noted tinted visors.

The States have not updated the helmet proscribed offence provisions by adding additional proscribed offences. It can be argued that the vehicle minor defect safety system should be used for visors rather than punitive fines.

There is no definition of what would cause a helmet certified to AS1698 or UNECE 22.05 to become non compliant and there are no proscribed offences for a non compliant visor on a helmet. In a court the prosecution would have to provide evidence that a helmet fitted with a tinted visor constituted a non compliant helmet. It is innocent until proven guilty. This is a strict liability offence, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt the helmet is non compliant.

Any infringement notice issued for a tinted visor fitted to a helmet should be challenged.

Where any infringement notice is issued the importer should be contacted and asked for a statement of compliance for the visor so it can be submitted to the fine review authorities.

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.

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.