Helmets are essential safety equipment for all motorcyclists. Indeed, it is against the law to ride a motorcycle without being thus equipped, but, are they illegal to use?

Our colleague Hazril Hafiz, of paultan.org‘s Bahasa Malaysia site, recently spoke to Datuk Ir Haji Mohamad Dalib, director of Road Transport department (JPJ) automotive engineering division. He was asked what is the official JPJ stand on the use of tinted visors on motorcycle helmets.

“On paper, a visor on any helmet has to have 100% clear visibility. This means any visor darker than that is forbidden from use,” said Dalib. He emphasised this by pointing to his personal helmet that has a 100% transparent visor.

But, why is it forbidden? When asked if wearing a tinted visor – during daylight – be safer by avoiding eye strain and allowing for better vision and focus on road conditions and traffic, Dalib had this to say.

“The reason why is to determine who is behind the visor, more so if the rider’s eyes can also be seen,” he said. “This is to allow for eye contact with other road users, especially car drivers,” he continued.

According to Dalib, this is important to determine the rider’s intention, for example, when intending to exit an intersection. “Look directly at the other driver, and use hand signals before moving. This is most effective and safe, because there has been earlier eye contact,” he said.

Contrary to popular belief, the ban on tinted visors is not to avoid the committing of crime by motorcycle riders, even if this is the perception of some road users when seeing helmets with tinted visors. The rule on tinted visors is purely to ensure the safety of the rider, with any negative incidents being secondary and isolated matters, Dalib said.

Most visor manufacturers prohibit the use of tinted visors at night, though. This is due to the reduced visibility, and in the case of heavily tinted racing visors, night vision is almost non-existant.

There is the argument wearing sunglasses would be necessary if clear visors are used, with the possibility of shards entering the eyes should the glasses shatter in event of accident, although there is the option of using helmets fitted with an internal or external sunvisor. Additionally, if the rider is short-sighted, the use of sunglasses to cut glare is necessary as it is impossible to have a prescription visor made due to the compound curves of the design, though it is possible with goggles.

Also, if the windows of the car are tinted, eye contact with the driver would be impossible, rendering the point of making tinted visors illegal moot. What do you think?

Should motorcycle helmet tinted visors be illegal or does it serve a necessary safety function? Leave a comment with your thoughts and opinions below.