Mandatory Helmets - are they to stay?
Australia is one of the first countries to implement mandatory bicycle helmets. Research has shown that helmets reduce head injuries by up to 74% in motor vehicle crashes (Transport NSW) However, despite the research and their effectiveness in protecting our heads when riding, helmet laws continue to be a matter of debate in Australia.
Research undertaken by the Bicycle Network, Australia's largest bike-riding organisation has found that 60% of cyclists believe they should be able to wear, or not wear a helmet when they ride. They believe the decision should be theirs and theirs alone. Not only that, they state that if given the choice, more people would ride a bike if helmets were not mandatory. Their research stated 30% of people would ride more often if helmets were not mandatory.
The debate continues, but for now, helmets are here to stay.
How to Know if Your Helmet is up to Scratch
Australia has stringent helmet safety tests, and all helmets must display a sticker or label saying they have met these guidelines. You'll find a sticker stating they have met the Australian and New Zealand standard (AS/NZS 2063). It is illegal to sell a helmet in Australia that does not conform to AS/NZS 2063. Be wary of this when choosing a helmet.
State by State
Australian States have different bike riding regulations, from riding on footpaths, bike bells and more. Their stipulations and fines vary from Sate to State on some issues. However, the one rule that remains the same is in regards to bike helmets. It is stated that:
Cyclists must wear a helmet at all times, unless you have medical, cultural, or religious reasons not to
The only diversion from this rule is in the Northern Territory. Their regulations state:
For now, mandatory helmets are here to stay. Time will tell if the mandatory helmets regulations are reviewed or not. But for now, wear your helmet or cop a hefty fine.
When it comes to scooters, the Daily Telegraph published an article in 2015 reporting that "In the 12 months leading up to the article article, 80 kids were admitted to Westmead hospital with serious head injuries. 75% of the scooter riders were not wearing helmets." Read more about it here.