Province steers new safety standards for motorcyclists

Bikers required to wear safety industry helmets and keep feet on floor board

Motorcyclists may want to check the decals on the back of their helmets and the placement of their passenger’s feet if they want to avoid hefty fines.

Starting June 1, motorcyclists can face up to hundreds of dollars in fines if caught on the road without helmets that meet the province’s new safety requirements, and feet that hit the bike’s floor boards.

Only helmets complying under the standards of the United States Department of Transportation (DOT), Snell Memorial Foundation 2005 or 2010, or United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) will be considered legal. Proper certification labels on helmets will be required.

“The better protection you’re protecting your head (with), the greater chance that you have to survive,” said Oak Bay’s Acting Sgt. Angus Wagnell.

Novelty helmets, known as skid lids, skill caps, or beanies, which were previously legal, don’t provide any actual protection, Wagnell added.

“If you hit something head on, your flying off that bike at 50 km/hr, 80 km/hr on the highway, you’re going to want the best protection that you can (get).”

The helmets required under the new regulation have “a rigid head covering with a strong, stiff outer shell and a crushable liner.”

The stiff shell protects the head by distributing impact throughout the surface of the helmet, while the crushable liner absorbs energy of the impact.

It’s a “no-brainer” to have safety improved equipment, said Insp. Ray Fast, head of the Island District Traffic Services.

“Even if it just saves one life or saves one person from a serious injury, I think, that’s a significant achievement because at the end of the day that’s what we’d like to see,” Fast said.

As well, motorcycle drivers and passengers are required to keep their feet on the bike’s foot pegs or floorboards. Children who cannot reach the foot rests will no longer be able to ride as passengers.

If a passenger is not tall enough to reach the floorboard, it probably isn’t safe for them to be on the bike, Wagnell said.

“Part of it is for child safety,” he said. “The other part is to try and prevent stunt driving.”

Motorcyclists found violating seat requirements, such as allowing passengers under the age of 16 to be unlawfully seated, will face up to $121 in fines or could have their bike impounded if found to be stunt driving.

All helmet related offences will cost bikers up to $138.

If a motorcyclist refuses to give their helmet to an officer when asked, a $276 fine will be issued.

For more details, see www.pssg.gov.bc.ca/osmv.

Did you know?

In the past 5 years, in B.C. there were 203 motorcycle deaths. On Vancouver Island (under RCMP jurisdictions) there were 40.

• Each year in B.C., there are approximately 2,200 crashes involving motorcyclists and about 42 deaths.

• Motorcyclists are eight times more likely to be killed and more than 40 per cent more likely to be injured in a crash compared to other road users.

• Helmet laws have been found to reduce fatalities by as much as 37 per cent.