To mark the beginning of Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, the provincial government announced 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.
“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,” said Bond in a news release.
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 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.