Motorcycle helmet laws are changing

Media Release - 8 March 2016

South Australia to introduce new motorcycle helmet standards

Road Safety Minister Peter Malinauskas has announced that ECE 22.05 standard helmets will soon be able to be worn by motorcyclists in South Australia.

“Choosing the best motorbike helmet in terms of crash worthiness and fit can substantially reduce chances of acquiring a brain injury in the event of a crash,” Mr Malinauskas said.

United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) 22.05 was developed from an in depth study of head injuries to motorcycle riders and is used in Europe and many other countries around the world.

“Until recently, Commonwealth consumer protection laws prevented these helmets from being sold in Australia.

“Now that ECE 22.05 standard helmets can be legally sold, the South Australian Government will update our laws so that these helmets can be worn here,” Mr Malinauskas said.

The Road Traffic (Miscellaneous) Regulations 2014 will also be updated to remove from the list of approved helmet standards, all standards and models pre-dating 1988.

Current provisions allowing a bicycle helmet to be used by a motorcycle passenger under the age of six years will also be removed.

11 motorcyclists were killed and more than 100 were seriously injured on South Australian roads in 2015.

The introduction of ECE 22.05 Standard motorcycle helmets and the removal of outdated standards both bolster the safety of motorcycle riders and promote consistency with the majority of Australian states and territories.

The laws are expected to come into effect by May 2016. 

Please note that the changes to regulation 51 in the Road Traffic (Miscellaneous) Regulations 2014 have not yet been formalised and it is still illegal to use ECE 22.05 standard helmets on our State’s roads at this time.  Another announcement about the date of the legislation’s commencement will be made as soon as that date is known.

Helmet markings

All helmets must be marked to show that they comply with the relevant Australian Standard or ECE 22.05.  For helmets that comply with ECE 22.05, the helmet must bear a label displaying an international approval mark. The label may, for example, appear as a sticker on the outside of the helmet or as a label sewn into the retention system of the helmet.

The mark will be in the form of a circle surrounding the letter "E", followed by the distinguishing number of the country that has granted approval. The number to the right of the "E" may vary from one model of helmet to another.

Examples of ECE standard marks are shown below.

E1 - ECE standards markorE4 - ECE standards mark

An example of an Australian standards conformance mark is shown below.

Australian standards conformance mark

Choosing a helmet

Helmets range in price and construction, so spend time choosing the best protection, the best fit and most comfortable style for you. For more information on helmets, including protection and comfort ratings, visit the Consumer Rating and Safety of Helmets website http://www.crash.org.au/ .

Never buy a second hand helmet. You won't know how it has been treated. It may have damage you can’t see.

Types of helmets

You can choose between:

  • full-face or flip-up styles, which have a chin bar to cover the lower face and jaw, or
  • open face helmet which leaves your face exposed so there is no protection for the chin and jaw. Many open face helmets offer no eye protection, so you could get hit in the eye by a rock or large bug causing injury or a loss of control; even rain can cause pain and difficulty in seeing clearly.

Helmet fit

Fit your helmet carefully by following these steps:

  • with the helmet on, place your hands on the sides of the helmet and move it around - you should feel your skin move with the helmet;
  • then move your head from side to side; the helmet should move with you without feeling loose on your head; and
  • finally, wear the helmet for a few minutes to make sure it's comfortable.

Gloves, boots, jacket and pants

Don’t forget to wear other protective gear. In the event of a motorcycle crash, in addition to your head hitting something, it's not unusual for hands, elbows, knees and feet to strike the bitumen or other hazards. Wearing protective clothing reduces your risk of serious injury.  More information about protective clothing can be found in the Good Gear Guide.

https://infrastructure.gov.au/roads/safety/publications/2009/pdf/good_gear_guide_nrsc.pdf

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