To mark the beginning of Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, the Province is announcing new safety regulations aimed at improving road safety and reducing motorcycle deaths, injuries and crashes.
Effective June 1, all motorcycle riders and their passengers must wear helmets that meet safety industry standards. This means motorcycle riders will no longer be able to wear novelty helmets, typically known as skid lids, skull caps or beanies, which do not meet the new requirements.
In addition, the new regulations:
- Will require passengers, including children, to place their feet on foot pegs or floorboards. Drivers can easily be thrown off balance and risk crashing if their passengers do not keep their feet fixed on foot rests. Children who are unable to reach foot rests will no longer be allowed to ride as passengers.
- Will improve visibility and enforcement for police. The font size on motorcycle licence plates has increased by 0.95 centimetres (3/8 of an inch). Since May 2011, all new motorcycle licence plates have been issued with the larger font.
In making the announcement, Minister of Justice and Attorney General Shirley Bond said the provincial government intends to move forward with a graduated licensing program that includes power restrictions, following additional consultation to determine the best model. Feedback will be considered along with research and best practices to develop a model that improves rider safety and reduces motorcycle crashes especially for new riders.
The Office of Motor Vehicles and ICBC will also partner on an awareness campaign to ensure automobile drivers are aware of how to drive safely when they encounter motorcycles on the road.
The goal is to reduce fatalities and injuries from crashes involving motorcycles. While motorcycles are estimated to make up about three per cent of insured vehicles in B.C., they account for approximately 10 per cent of road fatalities. In the last five years, 203 motorcyclists have lost their lives on B.C.'s roads and 5,172 have been injured. Motorcycle fatalities increased by about 57 per cent between 1996 and 2010.
The new rider safety regulations are the result of extensive consultations between the Office of the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles, BC Coroners Service, ICBC, police and other road safety partners to develop a comprehensive approach to improve motorcycle safety within the motorcycling community and industry.
The month of May will allow for a transition period that will give government time to move to the new laws by informing riders and the public about the upcoming changes. Starting June 1, police will begin enforcing the new laws and issuing educational materials to riders found violating the helmet and seating regulations.
Fines for all new helmet-related offences are $138, and fines for seating requirements range from $109 to $121. In addition to fines, riders violating seating requirements will have their motorcycles impounded.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General Shirley Bond -
"While B.C. already has mandatory helmet and seating laws, these new standards provide even more guidance to help riders - who are more vulnerable to injury and death than other road users- enjoy a safe journey.
"Thanks to individuals like Denise Lodge and the Adey family, who have shown a commitment and passion for improving road safety, we are able to turn tragic circumstances into real improvements."
Denise Lodge, Coalition of Riders Educating Youth (COREY) -
"Since March 3, 2005, in memory of my son Corey, I've been actively advocating changes to legislation, the culture, attitude, belief and behaviour to ensure other young riders don't needlessly lose their lives.
"With more people getting motorcycle licences, risks are rising. We know that safety starts with the rider and we also know that an approved motorcycle helmet can save a life."
"Times have changed; motorcycles are more light weight and much more powerful. Now more than ever, riders need the tools and skills to ride safely."
Jamie Graham, chair, BC Association of Chiefs of Police Traffic Safety Committee -
"Police have been asking for these changes for years. We have seen the harm that inadequate safety equipment and poor choices cause. You have to be responsible for your actions, dress appropriately, pay attention and focus on driving, and you will prevent a tragedy."
Dr. Roy Purssell, emergency physician and chair of the BCMA's Emergency Medical Services Committee -
"The new safety requirements will save lives. When motorcycles and vehicles collide, the rider of the motorcycle is the one most often seriously injured or killed. I have provided care for motorcyclists who arrive at the emergency department with minimal injuries after surviving a terrible crash simply because they were wearing a well-designed helmet and other protective gear."
- Helmet laws have been found to reduce fatalities by as much as 37 per cent.
- Each year in B.C., there are about 2,200 crashes involving motorcyclists and about 42 rider deaths.
- Motorcyclists are eight times more likely to be killed and more than 40 per cent more likely to be injured in a crash than other road users.
- The main factors contributing to motorcycle crashes are speed, an inattentive driver and failure on the part of other drivers to yield to right-of-way of motorcyclists.
- Helmets that meet industry standards have a rigid head covering with a strong, stiff outer shell and a crushable liner. The stiff outer shell protects the head by distributing the impact throughout the surface of the helmet, and the crushable liner protects the head by being able to absorb the energy of the impact. Full-face helmets are not mandatory.
- Helmets must comply with standards outlined by the United States Department of Transportation (DOT), Snell Memorial Foundation 2005 or 2010, or United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (ECE).
A backgrounder follows.
Ministry of Justice
Government Communications and Public Engagement
April 30, 2012 Ministry of Justice
B.C.'s new motorcycle safety law
Beginning June 1, 2012, B.C.'s new motorcycle safety law will come into force. It has three components:
1. Helmet Safety Standards
All motorcyclists and motorcycle passengers in B.C. must wear a motorcycle helmet that meets one of the following safety standards:
- DOT - Also known as FMVSS 218, conforms with the U.S. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 218.
- Snell M2005 or Snell M2010 - In accordance with the Snell Memorial Foundation 2005 or 2010 Standard for Protective Headgear for Use with Motorcycles and Other Motorized Vehicles.
- ECE - In accordance with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe ECE Regulation No. 22.
The safety helmet must display the proper certification label. Full-face helmets and visors are not required and riders are free to choose any helmet colour they prefer. However, eye protection and brightly-coloured helmets are strongly recommended to help prevent collisions, injuries and fatalities.
Uncertified, novelty "beanies" do not meet the requirements.
Fines for all new helmet related offences are $138. Refusing an officer's demand to produce a helmet carries a $276 fine.
2. Seating Requirements
The operator of a motorcycle must be seated astride the driver’s seat. Passengers must be seated behind the operator astride the passenger’s seat with their feet on foot pegs or the floorboards at all times (even when the motorcycle is stopped - e.g., at an intersection), or be properly seated in a side
The operator is responsible for ensuring passengers younger than 16 years of age are properly seated. Any passengers, including children who cannot reach the foot pegs or floorboards, are not permitted to ride as passengers.
Fines for violating seating requirements range from $109 to $121 or vehicle impoundment, if considered stunting. Failing to use foot pegs and permitting a passenger to be unlawfully seated both come with a $109 fine.
3. Licence Plate Improvements
Since May 2011, ICBC has been issuing motorcycle licence plates with larger font. Font size has increased 0.95 centimetres (3/8 of an inch) to assist law enforcement with identifying the vehicle.
Existing plates can be upgraded to a plate with larger font by contacting ICBC.
The fine for an improper display of a licence plate or an illegible licence plate has increased to $230 from $196.
Ministry of Justice
Government Communications and Public Engagement