Helmet Law for Young Skiers Moves Through Sacramento

A bill currently moving though the state legislature would require skiers and snowboarders under the age of 18 to wear helmets on the slopes.

Assembly member Dave Jones, out of Sacramento, is pushing a bill that would require more in depth reporting of injuries at ski resorts, along with a helmet mandate for minors. The bill passed the Assembly Health Committee on Tuesday.

This bill also requires regular inspections of ski lifts, requires ski resorts to post a safety plan on the ski area website, and requires quarterly reports on any serious injuries or fatalities.

The National Ski Areas Association reports that 77% of children under the age of 9 years already wear helmets, though that number drops to 66% for kids between 10 and 14 years of age. Over all ages, helmet use is at 48% according to the Ski Areas Association website.

Staff at the Jones office explained that the safety numbers are not posted at individual resorts, but only listed for the nation as a whole by ski area industry associations. There are also requirements for more standardized signage at ski resorts. Staff reports that the bill is supported by a long list of professional health associations.

Staff also cites a study that shows with young skiers and snowboarders helmets would have reduced injury in 47% of cases that involved collisions with fixed objects, and 69% in cases of collisions with other skiers

The bill passed the Assembly Health Committee earlier this week, but still faces a long process through the judiciary committee, before a full vote on the Assembly floor.

The legislative year ends August 30th, if the bill survives that long, the Governor would have until September 30th to sign the bill into law.


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