May soon be illegal to ski without a helmet

Posted By: The Ski Channel on January 18, 2010 10:02 am

A California lawmaker, Senator Leland Yee (D-San Mateo), has introduced a law that would make wearing a helmet while skiing or snowboarding just as mandatory as wearing a helmet while bicycling (if you’re under 18, that is). The proposed punishment for not wearing one? Your parents have to pay a $25 fine. Not what they want to do if they’re already throwing down for your ski trip.

Yee is big on safety, and with the propensity for ski-related head injuries, this law seems like a no brainer to him. The research shows that wearing a helmet can cut the risk of serious head injury in half in children 15 and younger. “Is it common sense? Absolutely,” said Adam Keigwin, Yee’s chief of staff said of wearing helmets. “But the reality is it’s not happening.” When kids start watching the Winter Olympics next month, “you’re going to have more folks getting into this who aren’t trained,” Keigwin continued. “Even the best skiers and snowboarders wear helmets.”

This bill has just been introduced. That means it won’t be discussed for weeks, and won’t be heard on the Senate floor for at least a month. It won’t reach Gov. Schwarzenegger’s eyes until later this year. Opposition to this bill comes in the form of lawmakers viewing this kind of bill as “nanny government”, whereby the government takes too big a role in the day-to-day well being of the public. “You get into the question of just how far government should go in protecting people from themselves,” says Southern California Republican Senator Tom Harman.

Other opposers claim it’s ridiculous to make parents spend even more money on a ski trip. A helmet costs between $30 and $100. Chuck Peter, president of the South Bay-based Sundancers Ski and Snowboard Club, claimed that “some people might cry and whine about the price.” However, he went on to say,  “You can get a decent helmet for less than the cost of a day on the slope. All the families in our club will be in favor of it. It’s literally a no-brainer.”

If you’re gonna pop for a ski trip anyway, wouldn’t you feel an obligation to spend a few more dollars to make it a safe one?