California Ski Helmet Law Passed—Won’t Be Enforced

giro helmetCalifornia’s bill requiring youth to wear helmets on the slopes or face a fine, which the industry has been anxiously following, made its way to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s desk on Friday for final approval. The Governor applauded the measure, signed it, and then effectively shelved it, meaning that helmets will not be mandatory…this year.

The bill came to Schwarzenegger attached to another piece of legislation regarding ski resort signage and safety plans with the stipulation that if both bills weren’t passed, neither would take effect. Schwarzenegger refused to sign the second bill, writing: “This bill may place an unnecessary burden on resorts, without assurance of (reduced deaths or injuries.”

According to the Fresno Bee:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger applauded a proposed mandatory helmet law for minors Friday but took action that shelved it.

The Legislature, in passing the helmet law, stipulated that it would take effect only if a separate bill targeting ski resort signage and safety plans also was signed by the governor. Schwarzenegger said no.

“Consequently, while I am signing this (helmet) bill to demonstrate my support for this measure, I recognize that it will not take effect,” Schwarzenegger said in a written statement. Senate Bill 880 would have required children under 18 to wear helmets for downhill skiing or snowboarding.

Children currently must wear helmets when riding bicycles, skates, skateboards or non-motorized scooters, but not when sliding down a snowy mountain without brakes.

The bill by Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, called for violators to be fined $25, but it required judges to drop fines for first-time offenders. Law enforcement agencies, rather than ski resorts, would have issued citations.

Yee, through his chief of staff, Adam Keigwin, said the bill will be reintroduced next year as a stand-alone measure. Nationwide, an average of 38 people die annually from skiing or snowboarding, and about 42 people suffer crippling or serious injuries, according to the National Ski Areas Association.