The new helmet laws came into effect on June 1, 2012 in British Columbia. Under the new helmet laws, all motorcycle riders and passengers in B.C. must wear a motorcycle helmet that displays the proper industry safety certification label. Helmets must comply with standards outlined by the United States Department of Transportation (DOT), Snell Memorial Foundation 2005 or 2010, or United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (ECE). In an earlier post on this site, I outlined the details of the new laws which also include seating requirements. There was also an article in the Vancouver Sun stating that during the month of June, warning tickets only would be issued in some jurisdictions. Does that mean that some areas of BC will treat the new helmet laws differently?
This statement by the Provincial Government was also posted in that article.
The Office of the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles is working with police and motorcyclists to ensure the new helmet laws and seating regulations will be applied fairly and fines will be issued to riders putting their safety at risk. Police also have educational material to distribute to riders to inform them about the new laws.
Based on reports that I have read in the last couple of days, this statement by the BC Government has clearly not been implemented fairly. I have also heard from the British Columbia Coalition Of Motorcyclists (BCCOM) that they have pointed out to the Superintendant of Motor Vehicles (OSMV) and to Blair Lekstrom, the Minister of Transport, that RCMP officers will not be able to tell the difference between legal and non-legal helmets when they are doing roadside checks for helmet laws and compliance. The governments standard reply has been that RCMP officers are trained to do helmet inspections.
Motorcycle Riders With Legal Helmets Issued Warning Tickets
Last night, I spent time reading a lot of posts on the BCCOM Facebook page about this very problem. It seems that officers in the Winlaw BC. area are giving riders warnings for non-compliant helmets. The problem is that some of those riders were in fact wearing compliant helmets, and that the officers at the scene could not tell the difference between compliant and non-compliant helmets. One of the officers is alleged to have tried to remove the DOT sticker on a helmet claiming that it was not applied by the manufacturer.
Randy Moore of Leather and Steel has had several conversations with the RCMP over this issue. Randy has posted some information about his latest conversation.
Helmet warning ticket for a true DOT helmet followup:
Todays meeting with the RCMP was via phone. The Officer in charge admitted that CST Smith was wrong in issuing a warning ticket for the helmet because the DOT was a sticker. He said that Cst Smith would be spoken to as soon as he returned from days off. I also explained to him that since the officer had picked away at the DOT sticker on the back of the helmet it was now tampered with and unusuable. I told him I had given the customer a new helmet and now expected payment from the officer in the amount of $155. He told me that authorization was above his pay scale and so he would go up the chain to try and get payment authorized. I will now leave the ball in his court and if I have not heard back in a few days I will call him on this. If that doesn’t speed things up I will see if the local paper is interested in a good front page story.
I have had a close look at all four of the DOT approved helmets that I use regularly, and two of the four have a DOT sticker that is applied on top of the finish on the helmet, and the other two have a decal that is under the finish. The photo to the right is a screen shot of the OSMV page that provides information on the various legal helmets, and the labeling on these helmets. The photo on the governments own website clearly shows a DOT sticker that has been applied over the finish on the helmet. Note that the helmet in the photo also shows other stickers that are not recommended by helmet manufacturers as they may damage the integrity of the helmet finish and it’s crash impact resistance.
This has the potential to cause great inconvenience and expense to riders that are charged with using a non-compliant helmet, when in fact the helmet they are using is compliant. Also, the officer on the side of the road will most likely issue a $138 ticket to these riders, and tow the motorcycle to a storage compound at further expense.
I have converted the OSMV website page into a PDF Document. Motorcycle riders should download this PDF Document, print it out, and carry it on their motorcycles to present to Police Officers in the event of a roadside stop for helmet compliance inspections. These new helmet laws will most likely cause a lot of riders to get tickets for illegal helmets when in fact the helmet they are using is completely legal.