Novelty helmets no longer allowed

Riders one-month grace period ends, got to have a proper helmet

RCMP Const. Tim Sparks of Ridge Meadows traffic services displays the acceptable style of helmet padding required under the new provincial safety guidelines for motorcyclists.

RCMP Const. Tim Sparks of Ridge Meadows traffic services displays the acceptable style of helmet padding required under the new provincial safety guidelines for motorcyclists.

They got the warnings in June, but starting in July, there will be no wiggle room for motorcyclists who don’t wear a real helmet while they’re riding.

Canada Day is when the new motorcycle helmet law kicks in, requiring motorcyclists to use proper, safety-certified helmets. Until now, motorcyclists could wear anything that was sold as a motorcycle helmet, including cheap novelty models that offered no protection. Many members of biker gangs and their followers wore such helmets.

“They’re going to be impacted by it,” said Const. Tom Sparks, with Ridge Meadows RCMP.

“A lot of the Hells Angels guys  … they will wear the fake helmets, as well,” Sparks said.

Once the helmet law is enforced, $138 tickets will be handed out.

Sparks added that the toy helmets, with no linings, fit close to the head, which means in a crash the first part of the rider to hit the ground can be the face.

The new law announced by the Ministry of Justice requires motorcyclists to wear helmets that show proper industry certification, such as Snell or a U.S. Dept. of Transportation sticker.

“An impact-resistant liner, that’s what we’re looking for. You’ll see those toy beanies and they’re just a hunk of plastic,” said Sgt. Dale Somerville.

Many half helmets that resemble beanies are legal if they have impact-resistant linings and the industry stickers.

Somerville said police aren’t targeting any particular segment of riders, but if there’s a group that uses non-legal helmets more often, they’ll get stopped more often.

Sparks confirms that saying the biker gangs know about the changes and are already using the legal helmets, as he saw when he recently stopped a full-patch Angel heading to the 25th anniversary of the Haney chapter.

“They’re well aware of the legislation and they’re taking steps to avoid us bothering them.”

The new law gives more clarity to law enforcement because, until now, if a helmet was sold as a motorcycle helmet but still had no lining or safety certification, it was considered a helmet.

In addition to a ticket, riders also will be required to park their bike if they’re caught using an illegal helmet. “You cannot continue.”

Somerville said the province introduced the legislation in attempt to reduce injuries and deaths.

“Motorcycle fatals have increased significantly in the last year 10 years. Between 1996 and 2010, motorcycle fatalities have increased 57 per cent in the province.”

He blames helmets and faster bikes.

But vehicles turning left in front of oncoming motorcycles at intersections have always been the classic motorcycle crash.

“Be ready for anything.”

“New seating laws have also been put into place to protect both passengers and riders.”

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