New Jersey became the first state to pass a ski helmet mandate. Gov. Christie (a Republican, no less!) signed the bill (S130) on April 8 that requires individuals under 18 to wear a helmet while downhill skiing or snowboarding. The measure provides favorable language for ski areas from an enforcement and liability standpoint, stating “Nothing in this act shall be construed to extend liability to the ski area operator.” The law takes effect on 11/1/11, and the parent or guardian of youths who fail to wear helmets would face a $25 fine for the first violation and $100 fines for any subsequent offenses.
New York’s proposed helmet bill picked up serious steam with the news of NJ’s bill becoming law. And Massachusetts ski resorts would be required to hand out helmets for free with all ski equipment rentals, under legislation filed by Rep. William Brownsberger (D-Belmont) after a constituent’s son was seriously injured during a ski accident. Brownsberger said that his constituent’s teenage son was discouraged from wearing a helmet by ski resort attendants renting him equipment, but he opted to wear one anyway. It was what saved his life when he hit a tree, Brownsberger said. “Skiers have to take responsibility for what they do,” Brownsberger said. “Ski areas do have some control over the injury risks. We can encourage them to do a better job protecting people.” The bill would not require individuals to wear helmets.
California’s “under 18” helmet law passed the Senate Health Committee last month and may pass the entire Senate soon.
And finally, the proposed Illinois mandatory helmet law was defeated in Committee last month. It would have required helmets for all ages, and it would have placed the burden of enforcement on the ski areas.