Motorcycle Helmets

Motorcycle HelmetOne of my old supervisors used to shake his head and say "$5.00 head, $5.00 helmet!" He was referring to Harley riders who wore "beanie" helmets that didn't do much more than hold the other ends of the chin straps. While I am not a motorcycle rider myself, I cannot see why some that do ride aren't interested in using the most effective helmet they can buy, especially after investigating a career's worth of motorcycle crashes.

According to PubMed, motorcycle helmet use reduces the incidence of severe head injuries by 50%, regardless of the speed limit. BC saw 72 injured and 15 killed in 2005 motorcycle crashes due to head injury. (The only contributing factor that ranked higher was "whole body.") Maybe a better helmet might have reduced those numbers.

So, unless you are a Sikh who actively practices the religion, has unshorn hair and wears a turban composed of more than 5 or more metres of cloth, you must wear a motorcycle safety helmet when you operate a motorcycle on BC highways.

What is an approved motorcycle safety helmet? That's a good question. The Designation of Motorcycle Helmets Regulation lists a collection of helmets that are considered to fit the requirement. Of course, it is not exhaustive as manufacturers are continually bringing out new models and it is not updated regularly. In fact, it appears that it hasn't changed since 1987.

So, if you're worried about safety, find a helmet that bears a recognized certification such as DOT or Snell. Spend more than the supervisor's $5.00 because your head is worth it.



Sikh exemption

Some time ago, I found the Judge's ruling on this issue but it was lost due to a computer malfunction.  (It was on my HD.) I believe that it was R vs Dhillon but I'm not sure. What was interesting was the Judge's reasoning for his ruling. It's probably worth a search and post?

Also, BC is the only Canadian Province to have granted an exemption. Ontario refused to do so and in several Privinces, the law has not been challenged.

But the whole issue of motorcycle helments is frought with mis-information. Even the "best" of helmets when subjected to a sudden stop (Like hitting a concrete barrier.) will only protect the rider to about 13 kph. In most cases, the rider has fallen from the seat to the roadway, about 2 1/2 ft. From there, the helmet is protecting the skull from being bounced along the pavement. Some research studies have shown that a cheap, novelty type helmet with lots of crushable lining, has actually protected better than some very expensive models.

There is some thought to thinking that if even the "best" helmets don't do too much in a bad crash, perhaps fit, comfort and reduced wind noise should be prime considerations. Behind a flashy paint job, of course.

In my personal opinion, I've always worn a "good" helmet even in my younger days when there was no helmet law. Just made good sense to me.

When it came to writing, or not writing, meaningful legislation on helmet standards, it ended in a mish mash of gobble de gook. That is why the useless "beanie" type helmets were "legal". Recent legislation has been improved, but not by much. Research has shown that even the Police Issue 1/2 and 3/4 type helmets are inferior to a full face type but our officers are not permitted to wear anything but "police issue".

So, back to our Sikh riders. How much does this exemption put them at risk ... really? Or was it, in fact, simply a "Religious Issue" fight?

Helmet Laws

The case that you mention is a BC Human Rights Tribunal decision for Dhillon v Ministry of Transportation. (Link currently unavailable. Request made to obtain updated URL on 2017-10-04)

There is also a Library of Parliament Research Publication titled Freedom of Religion and Religious Symbols in the Public Sphere that discusses how many of those aspects fit into our current legal system.

Helmet Laws - Reply

Thank you.  The Tribunal decision is what I had read previously but lost.

I sometimes think ...

... we all should take our helmets off to Tim.

Thanks to his efforts - his hobby - this site has more useful links and information than just about anywhere, when it comes to information about driving in BC.

I can understand that some motorcyclists don't want to wear a helmet; they can be hot and uncomfortable, while restricting vision and hearing.

But if your head hits the road - or anything else, for that matter - then surely you're better off with protection. And if it's a choice between a helmet or a turban, I know which I would choose.

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