You’ve probably been in this situation before, when you pull up to a petrol station and start filling up, only to hear a sudden muffled voice coming from the tannoy. You turn around and see the puzzled face staring at you from inside the station, while the loudspeaker continues its muffled shouts.
You then point at your chest, to check if they’re talking to you, and it’s then you realise that the reason you can’t really hear them is because you’ve still got your motorbike helmet on.
This sort of scenario has become a problem for many riders, as an increasing number of petrol stations have started refusing to sell petrol to riders who keep their helmets on.
Why do you need to take your helmet off?
So why is it that some petrol stations insist that you take off your helmet?
One reason of course could be that petrol stations are making smaller margins on the litres of fuel that they’re selling. Therefore, a lot of stations want and need to entice you into their attached shop. Normally these shops need you to remove your helmet as a part of their policy on security.
Another is so that petrol stations in high crime areas can deter thieves from filling up their two-wheelers and riding away without paying. Dealing with both the theft of fuel and motorcycles has become a business community and public issue as well as a police one. And this means petrol stations themselves taking action against the potential selling of fuel to criminals, along with preventing the bullying and intimidation of staff that can occur.
Also, due to the fact that petrol is an age-restricted product, many stations ask motorcyclists to remove their helmets to confirm age identity. Fuel Stations are very heavily regulated, which of course is understandable, and the Petroleum (Consolidation) Regulations 2014 state that fuel stations shouldn’t decant fuel to anyone under 16 yrs.
Why does this apply to you as a law abiding motorcyclist?
Unfortunately, staff at petrol stations aren’t protected by police 24-7, and they don’t know who you are. Instances of criminals using stolen bikes in order to commit robberies at stations and threaten staff still occur. And there seems to be a perception amongst these criminals that the police are powerless to stop them, as they commit crimes using bikes stolen from innocent riders.
When using stolen motorbikes, criminals can easily blend in by riding normally, and they have a viable means of escape if they’re suddenly challenged by the authorities. Therefore it makes sense that some petrol stations, particularly in areas with high motorcycle crime, are choosing to not serve customers until they remove their helmets. As this can disrupt criminals who won’t want to reveal their faces.
Denying criminals freedom of movement, helps to better control where they go, and in turn helps the police to gain intelligence or take positive action. Although it is an inconvenience to remove your helmet when you’re filling up at a station, doing so will make staff feel less threatened. They’ll also be far less concerned that the interaction is going to end in a theft or confrontation.
When a rider removes their helmets it allows them to be recorded by CCTV, and if in turns out that rider was a criminal, then the police will have this evidence to act on. When the rider has kept their helmet on, there will be considerably less for you or the police to go on it terms of evidential value, aside from intelligence to say that a stolen bike was there.
Taking off your helmet when asked to do so, can be a small gesture that ends up becoming part of a bigger community plan to help fight and reduce crime. Of course it’s vital that the authorities tackle the issue directly though, and actually follow up on the information.