Putting A GoPro On Your Motorcycle Helmet Is Illegal In Victoria And NSW

After being handed a $289 fine for attaching a GoPro to his motorcycle helmet, Victorian motorcyclist Max Lichtenbaum decided to challenge the decision — and lost. This decision effectively bans riders in Victoria from attaching cameras to their helmets by any means, with similar laws in NSW already being acted upon by police. So why is a little camera such a big deal?

Photo by Stefano Tinti / Shutterstock.com

In these two states, adding an attachment that protrudes by more than 5mm is seen as voiding the helmet's adherence to the Australian Standards, effectively classifying it as a non-compliant helmet.

When former Formula One Champion Michael Schumacher's brain injury was suggested to have been caused by the GoPro camera mounted on his helmet as much as by the impact itself, these laws start to make a little more sense. Given how hard an impact motorcyclists can potentially face in a crash, this is a legitimate concern. However, the law is barely standardised throughout Australia — while cops in NSW and Victoria will hand you a fine for attaching a camera to your helmet, further north in Queensland the police won't just overlook your use of a camera, you may even find them wearing one themselves. Western Australia is another that has followed this trend, utilising helmet cameras to catch motorists using mobile phones on the road, among other infractions.

In the end, the irregularity between states comes down to technicalities in the Australian Standard for motorbike helmets, and the way that each state's police force decides to interpret it. Cameras are not the only recent addition that will be effected by this court ruling however, with the legality of other additions like bluetooth receivers and intercom microphones being brought into question. Is it truly a matter of safety, then, or is it just nitpicking? Motorcycle riders most often use cameras for their own safety after all, with a visible camera on a motorcyclist often causing others to drive more cautiously around them.

We've already seen a ski helmet that's been specifically designed to protect the wearer from potentially dangerous camera mountings, could it then be possible that we will see similar designs appearing in motorcycle helmets? And, if they do appear, will the Australian Standards for motorcycle helmets be adapted to allow for this increasingly popular technology? While Mr Lichtenbaum's fine was not repealed, it was eventually reduced, and his lawyer Malcolm Cumming hopes that the case can still be used to spur discussion on the standardisation of helmet standards across Australia — allowing riders in all states to embrace new technology without fear of prosecution.

[The Motor Report]


Comments

    My son has a skate helmet with a built in camera. Maybe this is the way forward for helmet makers.

      There are already helmets being made with cameras and HUD built in, but none are being certified for ANZ, which means you can only get them in states like Queensland anyway.

      The problem with incorporating the camera in the helmet is a matter of cost. A helmet should be discarded if it is involved in a decent collision as the integrity of the helmet can be compromised. Having a modular camera that can be removed and used on another helmet makes sense, for me at least.

        "decent collision"

        I don't think it needs to be a decent collision.
        Even dropping it on the ground is enough to warrant replacement.

        Any impact even a small can introduce non-visible structural damaged that weakens it.

          Apparently that's not actually true. Bill Porter (CEO of Arai or something) was talking to Jay Leno about it (I cannot seem to find the video though I did watch it personally some time ago and there are many mentions of it around the internet) and Bill Porter basically said that, unless a weight is inside the helmet, a normal drop from waist height to the ground will basically do no damage to the helmet. Apparently there must be a weight (like your head) inside the helmet for any real damage to occur.

          Last edited 01/10/15 8:48 pm

            Unfortunately the only way to tell if the foam has been crushed is to cut the helmet open and inspect the foam (unless you have a handy Ultrasound Measuring instrument or CT scanner), oops helmet destroyed.

            i remember back in the day during rider training, showed us a helmet that had been in a minor "accident" (no scuff marks on the helmet), the foam was crushed at impact point. They made the comment that IF you use the helmet in a life threatening situation, your skull makes up for the defect in the foam.. No problems if you don't need complete cranial integrity.

            NB, most dirt-bike helmets are pretty badly treated, but then 95% of off-road spills are "low" speed off jumps and into trees... Helmet is more useful in these situations at stopping the bike from crushing your skull, not the "deceleration" control needed for high speed incidents..

            A factory engineered and fitted (mount) with removable camera will be the solution, easy transfer between helmets, Just need the Australian Standards sticker now.

            PS. Don't buy a helmet that is so expensive that you can't afford to throw it out. Just buy one appropriate for the value of your head. (jk)

              Well, I don't have any physical evidence but going off of what Bill Porter said it makes sense that there would be no damage to the foam from a drop. Think about it, why would the foam be crushed if your head wasn't in the helmet? If you drop a piece of foam on the ground it's not going to deform unless, for example, you step on it. That logic plus Bill Porter's statements make me more than confident enough to not chuck my helmet out after a drop.

      This probably won't get seen much since I'm late to the party but here's a link to an Australian company
      www.forcite.com.au
      Their first one is a snowsports helmet but they have a motorcycle one in the works.

    This is such a crappy ruling. I ride every day in QLD with a camera on my helmet. It has gotten me out of an insurance claim where to other party hit my bike, somehow managed to get a signed affidavit saying I was at fault. I pulled the camera footage out. He got dragged through the courts for fraud on his insurance claim.

    When people see your camera they act differently as they know they are being watched.

    The stick on mounts for my camera would break off very easily in an impact. Stick on things should be allowed. The AS Standards implies that modifying the helmet is not allowed ( eg Drilling holes ect ) I cannot see how double sided tape and a light weight camera can cause issues.

    What really bugs me about this whole thing is that its AUSTRALIAN standards, why is it legal in some states and not in others when they all use the same damn standards. Its madness and nit picking.

    I really hope a higher court overturns this ruling

      What's wrong with mounting the camera on the bike itself?

        Not a motorcyclist, but I'd imagine the vibration would be rather severe. Also, it'll only ever point forward (or in the direction of the front wheel depending on where you fix it) whereas on your helmet it points more or less where you're looking.

        Last edited 21/09/15 1:21 pm

          Surprisingly the vibration is not as bad as you might think. I've suctioned my GoPro to my petrol tank and it wasn't too bad. Footage was useable if required and the wide field of view caught some interesting stuff at traffic lights. I've also suctioned it on my front screen (from the inside but poking above the screen) and was was just as good. But like you said it's in a fixed position so would only have limited value.

          The fact a helmet-mounted camera will point where you look is, in my opinion, another reason NOT to allow them, as it could encourage riders to look at something other than the road ahead if they wanted to, for example, grab the number plate of a car that did something to annoy them.

        The body acts as vibration dampener. The other day I mowed the lawn with a gopro attached to the handle of my mower and the footage is unusable due to vibrations from the motor. Also your head moves around a lot more so greater field of view. And drivers look at the rider, cameras standout on the head but would get lost on the handlebars in the noise of hardware.

          Wingsuit flying, big wave surfing and now a GoPro on a lawnmover? Careful mate, there's only so much adrenaline a man can cope with. :)

        When riding you look through the corner, you are also scanning constantly.

        having the camera face straight ahead is of very limited value when riding as the tilt of the bike make the footage very average, the FOV also cannot stretch past about 170 degrees, while in a straight line this is fine but as you corner half of your footage is the road and half of it is the sky, none of it is the road ahead of you

          there are mounts for that.

        The idea is that the bike mounted camera cannot look around and see incoming danger that your camera mounted to the helmet is likely to see.

      Not being a motorcyclist, I don't really know much about it. But would it be possible to attach the camera somewhere on the front of the bike rather than to the helmet?

        You can. But a helmet mount will direct the camera where you're looking which may be more useful, particularly if you were scanning at the time of an incident

    Australian motorcycle helmet laws are a farce anyway. Cops aren't sure which laws they're supposed to enforce half the time.

    I can forsee this law being overturned at some point in the future. What about hemet comms? How is my decision to mount a camera on a helmet affecting anyone else's safety but mine, especially taking into account that less safe helmets can be worn anyway under Aussie helmet regulations?

    Why does mounting a camera on a fully compliant full face helmet make it suddenly less safe then a half helmet that offers literally no protection at all, but still complies with helmet regs?

    This is naught but revenue raising and babysitting from a government and law system too involved in policing each and everything they can get their sticky fingers on.

    Last edited 21/09/15 12:18 pm

      My Helmet comms extends about 18mm from my helmet, I've actually had an accident on top of it, and the quick release mechanism sent it flying up the street, it definitely wasn't attached after the initial impact. Realistically, the mount is far more permanently attached than most gopro mounts on suction caps.

        I did a google search to see if I could find any legal basis for this article, and one of the other posts I found said accessories could only extend 5mm from the helmet. Which rules out most if not all comms. Including those that the police have on their helmets.

          Is that an Australian Standard, or a state based interpretation? Personally I'd happily take anything that isn't spelt out in the standards to court. Cops love handing out fines with no legal basis due to poor interpretation of rules, and around here the judges aren't a fan of the "fine and hope contesting is too scary" method.

            It was talking of the NSW regulation, but it wasn't the most reliable source, and it said the guy being charged in NSW was being charged against a regulation that didnt apply and wasn't legal.
            That case hasnt been determined - or if it has, they havent updated the post. So who knows.
            But it was a big fine, and 3 points. I'd be pissed if I lost 3 points off my licence for my bluetooth headset

              Understandable for L / P platers for the distraction factor, but otherwise a crock of crap. I feel they've ridiculously upped the points penalties for everything in NSW the last couple of years.

    You can still you chest straps. Not as good as a helmet mount but at least you can still use your gopro.

      You can still you chest straps. Not as good as a helmet mount but at least you can still use your gopro.
      Really not as good. Most sports bike riders would get good footage of their tanks. Others would have their arms blocking 3/4 of the shot.
      Plus, not something you want on your chest if you come off

      I'd rather a suction cup that'll pop off my helmet than a strap on my chest ready to break a rib.

    So is this law for any helmet (cyclist, roller skate, skateboard etc) or just motorcyclists?

      It relates to the standard for motorcycle helmets so I guess it would depend what the standards for the others say.

      Bike helmets as well - i was told off by a police officer a while back wearing mine.

    He challenged it poorly. Challenge it based on the design rules, and the fact you have not permanently modified the structure of the helmet. Not "I didn't know, I thought it was safer". He was guaranteed to lose. Being ignorant of rules is not an excuse. Knowing more about the rules than the judge, the police, and the prosecution is far more likely to go in your favour.

    Last edited 21/09/15 1:16 pm

      He went in with a motorcycling rights lawyer. I don't think he could've been any more prepared.

    See this is why we all need ocular implants, to avoid all this nonsense :P

    People on their phones in their cars is much more dangerous for motorcyclists than GoPros on helmets.

      Drinking bleach is more dangerous for motorcyclists than either. So?

    This article is not quite right, you can happily put a camera on your helmet in Victoria now however it was deemed illegal at the time of the offence. The argument by Vicpol is that is voids the ADR, which is debatable but irrelevant now.

    Vicroads has deemed helmets no longer need ADR certification if they have suitable certification from overseas bodies, and because those certifications don't take issue with helmet cams you can happily install one.

      That... Is a brilliant observation. I can't wait to buy an ECE certified helmet and stick my camera on it and see how that goes in court.

      can you point me to a website so if a cop pulls me over i can tell then it doesnt void warrantees.

      i have a gopro on my helmet and have observed behaviour changes when cagers notice the camera..i feel safer

    Melbourne rider here. I've never really wanted to mount a camera on my helmet but it would be nice to be permitted if I ever change my mind.

    Oh well - at least I can still park on the footpath.

      Not being in Melbourne doesn't seem to stop all the Victorians parking on the footpath in Canberra, right next to motorcycle parking :p

    Many years ago I was a member of the Standards Australia committee which wrote the Australian Standard for motorcycle helmets.
    From memory, the ban on external protrusions over 5mm high was an attempt to prevent these protrusions catching on things and generating a violent rotation of the head. 5mm was selected as this was the height of the then common 'studs' along the front of helmets which were used for clip on visors. As these seemed to cause no harm their height seemed as good as any for the limit.
    As long as any camera (or anything else) mounted on a helmet will easily break off in an accident (and not cause any violent head rotation) they will not contravene the 'intent' of the Standard. I would think that most plastic cased cameras would effectively disintegrate if subjected to much impact or dragging along the road anyway!

    Just called 13 14 44 and asked for highway patrol Sydney CBD. Was told I can use helmet camera but it cannot obstruct vision and if recording another person's voice I must have that person's permission. Try it

    The comparison to Schumacher is idiotic. The crash profiles between a motorbike helmet on the street and a ski helmet on the slopes are in no way comparable.

    Please site any relevant data that shows a head-mounted cam on a motorcycle helmet would add additional injury -- you can't because it doesn't exist...

    The law is not born out of any safety concerns, it's just an outdated law. Our helmet standards are idiotic, Australia has no reason to not abide by similar regulations allowable in the EU & USA. They only allow local manufacturers to charge exorbitant prices for safety gear.

      Does "your" camera mount have an engineered breakaway force/torque? (I think not)
      If Not, it could easily be shown that a rigidly attached camera on a helmet would easily be able to do damage (as in, cause the helmet shell to loose integrity, or cause significant rotational "damage" to the cervical vertebrae) if it caught on a gutter, car, pot-hole, or other instantaneously "obstructive" object.

      I don't care either way If the law is stupid or not BTW. Nor If it has been repealed, or deemed unenforceable.

      Yes standards should be brought into line with ISO (Abiding by US and EU standards is enforced parochialism as well).

    The police have them on there helmets in NSW.

      The police talk on their mobile phones while driving and park illegally too. You still can't.

    Riders should NOT only be looking at the road ahead of them. You get taught this when you do the course for your L's. you should be turning you head and checking your surroundings briefly so you can spot potential hazards. Also things like head checks when changing lanes and looking both ways before entering an intersection

    First we aint got the amount of money formula 1 has to spend on helmet cams.
    Usually our helmet cams rip off due to it being taped down and sucked on.
    If its strap on usually rotate. Laws bullshit. Like saying no police and we wouldnt know what to do to defend yourself? Quite the opposite. We aint defend ourself due to laws

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