Tinted visor crackdown: Cheshire Police adopt new tech to test the legality of tint levels on motorcycle helmet visors

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Earlier this month MCN reported on a new tint testing device obtained by Cheshire Police’s motorcycle unit to check visors are adhering to the current laws.

Although the law has not changed and visors are still required to allow 50% of natural light to pass through to the rider’s eyes, the announcement raised several questions.

“In Cheshire, we have recorded a number of serious and fatal RTCs where drivers vision has been a factor,” Roads Policing Constable PC James Shrimpton told MCN. “There is a long-standing issue with cars with excessively tinted windows.

Cheshire Police Tintometer

“For many years there has been a method of testing vehicle glass using tint testing devices,” the officer continued. “There has not really been an effective method of measuring motorcycle visors due to the different materials.

“The new device measures the passage of light through the curved polycarbonate of a motorcycle visor. The window tint glass is tested with a similar device, as the light transmission properties of vehicle glass is different and has a different standard of regulation.”

As part of a collision investigation process, the police will also examine the mechanical standards of the motorcycle involved and the standards of the rider’s equipment. If non complaint equipment was a factor in the collision, then this would be further investigated and tested.

AGV tinted helmet visor

Shrimpton added: “I would like to think that the vast majority of riders out there, have the wherewithal to be able to recognise changing conditions and adjust accordingly. However, some riders may be tempted to purchase a darkened visor purely for its aesthetics, inadvertently putting themselves at odds with the regulations and risking their own safety. The purpose of testing the visors is to both educate riders and enforce where necessary.”   

But could riders be pulled over for just donning a suspiciously dark looking visor or would another infraction be the premise to warrant a stop?

“A police officer can stop any vehicle, driven on the road or in a public place, at any time for, any reason. There does not have to be an offence or suspicion of offence in order to make a stop,” he explained.

Riding a Yamaha Ténéré 700 with a reactive visor

“If the officer (mostly our Dedicated Motorcycle Patrol Officers) notice that the visor seems not to comply with the regulations, at this point the visor would be inspected and if necessary tested to check for compliance.”

Currently the penalty for a non-regulation visor is a fixed penalty notice of £50, with the easiest way to tell if a visor is complaint is to look for the BSI Kitemark or European standard on the visor. Most manufacturers comply with this standard.

But in some circumstances more serious charges could apply, as PC Shrimpton explains: “If the darkened visor was used during the “Hours of Darkness” (see highway code) then the rider may commit a more serious offence of dangerous driving, especially if an injury collision results.”

Moto Morini ridden with tinted visor

He added: “We want to make it very plain, that a motorcycle visor is an important part of a motorcyclist’s equipment and the effect of using the wrong equipment in the wrong conditions can have serious consequences.”