European motorcycle helmets legal in 2016

NSW MCC vice-chairman Chris Burns (left), NSW Transport Minister Duncan Gay and police officer

International-standard European helmets will become legal to wear in NSW “by early 2016”, according to NSW Transport Minister Duncan Gay.

This will bring the state into line on approval for United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) helmets with Queensland, Victoria and Northern Territory and allow riders to cross test borders without fear of being fined.

The Minister’s office has issued an updated release after announcing last week at the launch of Motorcycle Awareness Week that NSW will only approve the use of the helmets, after the Federal Government and Australian Consumer and Competition Commission approve their sale by local retailers under rule Consumer Protection Notice 9 (CPN9).

“While I appreciate our neighbouring states have made changes to their own laws, it makes no sense to allow the wearing of helmets without fixing the retail side of it at a Commonwealth level – we need to enable helmets manufactured to the European Standard to be both worn and sold in NSW,” the new statement says.

“To resolve this, we will be writing to the Federal Minister to ask for amendments to the consumer laws so international helmets can be legally sold right across Australia.

“Once the Commonwealth makes these suggested amendments riders will be able to buy and wear these helmets in NSW.

“This will give riders and retailers access to a wider range of quality motorcycle helmets “This is a win for rider safety and a win for retailers.

“We are working towards having these new arrangements in place by early 2016.”

Until then, interstate riders should be wary of riding into NSW wearing helmets without the proper Australian Standard sticker as the state still considers UNECE helmets illegal and will fine riders for non-compliance.

The same goes for interstate riders in South Australia and Western Australia, while the ACT and Tasmania have not yet indicated whether they will fine riders.

The issue is with the CPN9 rule that only allows Australia-approved helmets to be sold here. So the only way riders can obtain a UNECE helmet is to buy one when travelling overseas or over the internet.

The Australian Motorcycle Council warns riders against buying a helmet online without having first tried it on, saying a badly fitting helmet is less than useless in protecting a rider’s head in a collision.

The ball is now in the court of the Federal Minister for Small Business & Assistant Treasurer Kelly O’Dwyer. 

“The federal government is aware of the NSW Government’s announcement to allow motorcyclists to wear helmets that meet the European standard,” a statement from her office says.

“We are currently considering whether amendments to the federal standards and consumer laws are needed.”