MODERN technology was on trial in Frankston Magistrates’ Court last week in a judgement with implications for motorcycle riders across Victoria.
A magistrate fined motorcyclist Max Lichtenbaum $150 for wearing two small GoPro-type cameras on his helmet and dismissed an appeal by the Frankston rider to have an infringement notice issued by police thrown out.
Mr Lichtenbaum had originally been fined $289 and three demerit points after he was stopped by police on 22 March in Plowman Place, Frankston while wearing the helmet-cam.
Police said the 55-year-old had broken safety standards by adding extensions to his motorcycle helmet.
Mr Lichtenbaum’s lawyer said last week’s court decision “is a disappointing outcome for riders and for motorcycle safety”.
“Riders tell us they wear helmet cameras to improve their safety while on the roads, and that drivers and other road users show more care when there is a camera in use,” Maurice Blackburn principal Malcolm Cumming said.
“And if there is a road accident or collision, helmet camera footage is among the best evidence you can get.”
Mr Cumming said riders should not be punished for trying to improve road safety. He slammed helmet laws across Australia as “a dog’s breakfast”.
“We continue to call for urgent reform in the law to fix the ambiguity around compliance of helmets with Australian Standards.”
Australian Motorcycle Council helmets committee chair Guy Stanford said motorcycle helmet safety standards vary from state to state so riders crossing state borders could find themselves unwittingly pinged by police due to differing safety rules.
In South Australia and Queensland, for example, road rules state a helmet only needs to comply with Australian Standards at the time of manufacture.
Mr Stanford said Victorian authorities’ insistence that any helmet protrusion of more than 5 millimetres could cause injuries in an accident “has been discounted internationally”.
“The whole set up for how this is being managed for Victoria is appallingly bad,” he said.
Mr Stanford said crash test results globally have shown helmet cameras do not cause further injury to riders unless a hole has been drilled to bolt a camera to a helmet.
He urged all state governments to implement a nationwide set of safety standards to include the right to affix a small camera to helmets.
Mr Cumming said an appeal against Mr Lichtenbaum’s fine may be lodged with the Supreme Court.
“We will continue to push for standardised national helmet laws that embrace new technology and rider safety.”