Beginning next month, motorcyclists in British Columbia have new safety regulations to follow. The province has introduced a number of new regulations that aim to improve road safe and reducing motorcycle deaths, injuries and crashes.
The regulations have three components: helmet safety standards, seating requirements and license plate improvements.
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.
The seating requirements component addresses the operation of the motorcycle. “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,” a backgrounder document says. “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.”
Finally, the font size on motorcycle license plates is increasing by 0.95 centimeters (3/8 of an inch.) Since May 2011, ICBC has been issuing plates with the larger font but any existing plate without it can be upgraded by contacting ICBC.
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.
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,” said a statement. While motorcycles are estimated to make up about three percent 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 province said 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. Refusing an officer’s demand to produce a helmet carries a $276 fine. A government press release said 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. The fine for an improper display of a licence plate or an illegible licence plate has increased to $230 from $196.