Trikes – Mandatory Helmet Wearing

Published 2nd July 2015

Responses should be received no later than Wednesday, 19th August 2015

Right To Ride Response To The  Consultation – pdf – 1.74mb – Click Here

trike-helmet-consultation-2015-250We have received a DOE (Department Of The Environment) – Road Safety and Vehicle Regulation Division consultation for a  “Proposal for the Mandatory Wearing of Helmets on Motor Tricycles”,  in Northern Ireland.

This highlights that the wearing of helmets for riders of, and passengers on, motor tricycles used on public roads in Northern Ireland would be a mandatory requirement.

The DOE through the Road Traffic Amendment Bill (primary and secondary legislation) and a previous consultation, decided that after public concern was raised regarding motor quadricycle (quad bike) rider collisions on the public road, to implement legislation to enforce the wearing of helmets by quad bike riders.

During this process the DOE have said that their officials were committed to consider also extending the requirement to wear helmets when riding motor tricycles on the public road.

Electronic copies of the consultation papers are available on the DOE’s website in the Road Users – Road Safety and Vehicle Regulation – Consultations & Publications – Consultations section.

The direct link to the papers can be found by – Clicking Here

Or direct from here on Right To Ride:

Proposal for the Mandatory Wearing of Helmets on Motor Tricycles – June 2015-pdk 80kb

Response form to consultation: Proposal for Mandatory Wearing of Helmets on Motor Tricycles – .DOCX 16K

Responses should be received no later than Wednesday, 19 August 2015.

Initial Thoughts

trike1-250We have had a quick read through and there are some bits like this being proposed – “Every person driving or riding a motor tricycle on a road must wear protective headgear, except when a motor tricycle: has seatbelts fitted when required by the relevant regulations.”

So not all trikes are being proposed to require the wearing of helmets.

The civil servants say that the wearing of helmets is being proposed in order to reduce road casualties, but they also state, “However, it should be noted that even if these riders were wearing helmets it would not have necessarily prevented injury or death.”

Trikes are substantially different to PTWs.  In fact,  Right To Ride’s Elaine Hardy notes that “there is another perspective which is that because trikes are far more stable – they have three wheels – in a certain respect, there is far less possibility of suffering injuries or fatalities by riding a trike – statistically they don’t even appear as an issue – 2 fatalities between 2008 and 2014 (6 years) in Northern Ireland – 3 seriously injured – during the same period. These figures do not reflect the fact that these riders would have died or been seriously injured anyway – in other words, head protection or lack of, wasn’t the cause of their death.”

trike2-250Our opinion is that because of the references to safety and reducing road casualties then it would be hard to stop that particular bandwagon, even if there is no need to introduce this proposal.

A proposal that is for road safety technically cannot take into account an adults own responsibility to have a freedom of choice, road safety cannot cope readily with that particular basic persons right.

Adults that ride road going and road legal trikes who are licence holders to ride these vehicles on the public roads  are a close knit community, they cannot be classed overall as “normal” road users.

One might say that this community has made the choice and taken deliberate steps to operate these vehicles in a responsible manner in terms of road safety.  It is a minority community of road users and hence should have been consulted more closely and personally on the effect of this proposal.

What we have in the Northern Ireland Assembly are elected representatives, the politicians.  Then we have government departments which in this instance is the DOE (Department Of The Environment) Road Safety and Vehicle Regulation Division officials, we have committees of MLAs who “steer” the government departments and the ministers who “head” these departments and the main body of politicians in the Northern Ireland Assembly, not all agreeing on the issues.

trike3-250In this instance for this proposal we have a statement from the DOE officials, which is that they are committed to consider also extending the requirement to wear helmets for Quad Riders, which is still going through the Northern Ireland Assembly.

What we do not seem to have is any commitment other than from Civil Servants, who should not, in our opinion, be a “driving” force to introduce primary legislation into a bill at this late stage in the bill’s development. This is a matter for elected representatives and a step too far for unelected officials to be considering.

Legislation should come through the democratic process – the citizen first and then our elected representatives –  not driven by these civil servants and any personal road safety thoughts or good ideas that they may have.

The notion that a government department, in this instance, the DOE, its minister and officials knows better, is of concern in this last bastion of road user freedom.

Rider Say

As riders have already said:

  • I believe that it should be down to the individual if they wear a helmet or not ,not forced to do so. The powers to be are making life on the whole very hard on bikers/trikes we play more road tax than most cars out there we have loads of different tests to do to get a licence in first place.
  • I know people who choose to wear a helmet. Personally I do not – something to do with the last little bit of freedom we have in this country.
  • I fear this is a well intentioned, but ignorant proposal based on a snap decision/opinion from people with little knowledge other than “it sounds like a good idea”.

trike10-250Our thoughts are that this does not need to be introduced in Northern Ireland, we are not aware of any plans to propose this requirement in the rest of the UK (England – Scotland – Wales) British Overseas Territories or Crown Dependencies, but we would like your thoughts as you all are the riders and users.

We have already had some debate on the Right To Ride Facebook page – Facebook – and on the Island Trikers group page – Island Trikers

As a group/club/association or individuals, then the documents are up above to respond.

As Right To Ride we will be responding, however in the meantime, we would love your thoughts either here or you can also send them to trevor.baird@righttoride.co.uk for possible inclusion in any response (keep it clean!)

Trike Riding

The pictures on this page have been taken over the last few years at weekend events. They show riders enjoying their chosen means of getting about on our roads and gathering, mainly to raise thousands of pounds for local charities and having fun!

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