California lawmakers are making another try at requiring kids to wear helmets on the slopes. Sen. Leland Yee (D) reintroduced a measure Jan. 13 to get children to wear helmets while skiing or snowboarding -- similar to the state's bicycle and skateboard helmet law.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed an identical bill in September that required helmets for kids while skiing or snowboarding. But the helmet legislation was tied to a companion bill that would have required ski resorts to prepare annual safety plans, report on fatalities, and devise signage plans. Schwarzenegger did not sign the second bill, which effectively killed the helmet requirements.
The new helmet bill -- Senate Bill 105 -- requires that kids under the age of 18 wear helmets. Resorts would be required to broadcast the mandate via signage, and parents could be fined up to $25 if their kids are in violation of the law. It is a stand-alone measure this year.
The California Ski Industries Association helped craft the original helmet bill. "We need to give parents a leg to stand on when kids resist," Executive Director Bob Roberts told OnTheSnow.
"We worked with the National Ski Areas Association to craft the bill as a national model. It's unrealistic to extend the requirement to adults. Adults should be responsible for themselves, and 50 percent of them wear helmets anyway," Roberts added. "We wanted to get a bill that the industry could live with."
The bill would put the law into the penal code, which means that only law enforcement officers can levy the fines on parents. Ski areas would not be pulling tickets to enforce it.
The helmet bill also faces a new governor this year, should it pass to his desk. Gov. Jerry Brown took office in January.
The National Ski Areas Association shows helmet use on the rise. Preliminary statistics from last winter show that 87 percent of children 9 years old and younger wear helmets while skiing or snowboarding, and 75 percent of children ages 10-to-14 wear helmets.