Motorcycle helmets: The legal standards

Every Australian motorcyclist knows they need a helmet if they want to ride. Wearing a motorcycle helmet significantly reduces your chances of suffering a serious head injury should you have an accident, and could literally be difference between life and death.

While our laws differ slightly from state to state, Australia as a whole has some of the world’s most strict and comprehensive motorcycle helmet laws, and that’s definitely a good thing. However, if you’re not aware of the legal standards for motorcycle helmets in Australia, here are the basics of what you need to know.

What are the laws with motorcycle helmets?

The base standard that motorcycle helmets have to comply with is the Australia/New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 1698:2006 (as amended) Protective helmets for vehicle users. Helmets that comply with this standard will have a sticker or some other mark signifying this.

The main points of the standard are:

  • The helmet needs a means of absorbing impact energy, a means of distributing load, and a retention system. All of these components need to be permanently attached.
  • Nothing fitted to the helmet should be likely to cause injury in the cause of an impact.
  • The retention system (e.g. the chin strap) needs to be adjustable in order to produce tension.

The standard document contains many more points, but many of them are more relevant to manufacturers than consumers. The full standards document can be viewed here.

How do I tell if my helmet is legal?

There are four companies that have the ability to certify helmets in Australia. They are:

  1. BSI:Certified Product. Australian & NZ Standard. AS/NZS 1698.
  2. Global-Mark:Certified Product. AS/NZS 1698.
  3. SAI Global:Certified Product. Australian Standard AS/NZS 1698.
  4. TUV RA:AUS Certified Product. Compliance of this product with AS/NZS 1698-2006

Quite simply, if your helmet doesn’t have one of these stickers attached, it is probably in your best interest to avoid it. These certifications mean that the helmet has been through testing and will stand up in a crash.

 

When it comes down to it, considering the laws and standards differ by state, someone in the market for a helmet is definitely best off going to a reputable retailer and asking them about which helmets are road-legal and which aren’t. They’ll be able to help you find a helmet that suits your head shape and is 100% certified.

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