Move to end ‘ridiculous’ helmet camera ban

South Australia will next week vote to remove the “ridiculous” ban on helmet cameras to improve rider safety, encourage more people to ride and to collect evidence in road accidents.

Shadow Minister for Police, Emergency and Correctional Services, Stephan Knoll will introduce his Private Members Bill in Parliament on Thursday, June 22, 2017.

However, it is not expected to pass in its present form as Road Safety Minister Peter Malinauskas says they want a national approach, rather than a “hotch-potch” of state rules.

Riders have been fined in South Australia, NSW and Victorian for using helmet cameras while there is no ban in Western Australia or Queensland where a previous Police Minister actually encouraged their use and last year the ACT ratified the legality of helmet cameras and Bluetooth units.

Malinauskas says the states are now working to agree on a national rule “so riders know exactly where they stand”.

“While we welcome the Opposition’s support for our effort, we think it’s got to be done in a way that doesn’t compromise the safety of motorcyclists,” he says.

He confirmed that NSW has been nominated as the lead legislator to trial new legislation before introducing it nationwide.

Meanwhile, Malinauskas suggested riders attach cameras “in a way that is compliant with the manufacturers’ recommendations”.

He says incorrect attachments could lead to neck and brain injury in a crash.

Eric Aria (Photo courtesy Channel 7)

The SA Bill follows an incident in February 2017 when Adelaide rider Eric Aria was warned about wearing a motorcycle helmet camera.

Eric went to the Sturt Police Station to submit video of drivers cutting him off in traffic but was instead given an official warning for an “illegal helmet camera”.

Eric welcomes the moves to legalise helmet cameras nationwide.

“It’s great to finally see this getting legalised. It would be great for riders safety for insurance and also reporting to the police,” he says.

Although the Bill is unlikely to pass in Parliament, motorcycle advocate Tim Kelly of Ride to Review welcomes the move to remove legal ambiguity.

He says Ride to Review was invited by Knoll to provide feedback for the Bill and the group also helped draft the state’s lane filtering rules introduced in March 2017.

The helmet camera Bill moves to change the “ridiculous law” for cyclists as well as motorcyclists and scooter riders.

“Current laws related to the use of cameras mounted to bike helmets are confusing and out of step with what motorcyclists, scooter riders and cyclists want,” a release from the Shadow Minister says.

Shadow Minister Stephan Knoll ban on helmet cameras
Shadow Minister Stephan Knoll

“The State Liberals want to allow the use of cameras mounted to helmets so that when incidents do occur on the road, vision could be used as evidence and that will encourage compliance with the road rules.

“We want to encourage as many South Australian as possible to ride bicycles, scooters and motorbikes as a way of helping reduce traffic congestion, whilst improving people’s fitness and wellbeing,  particularly through cycling.

“This legislative change is a simple measure to encourage safe use of our roads by all road users and, if it helps reduce even one accident or incident, then it will be worth it.”

The issue of the legality of helmet cameras stems from police interpretations of the Australian Design Rule AS1698 on helmets that says nothing can be attached to a motorcycle helmet and that a helmet shell cannot be modified such as by drilling holes.

However, now that helmets do not need to have Australian specification and Euro-approved helmets are allowed, it has heightened confusion among riders.

The UNECE 22.05 rule now includes a clause which effectively places the onus on a manufacturer to ensure that any attachment fitted internally or externally to a helmet is safe, this effectively moves the responsibility to the point of sale.

Riders would welcome a national rule change so they can ride across state boundaries without risking a fine.