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California governor vetoes ski helmet law

Last year, then-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill that required skiers and snowboarders under the age of 18 to wear a helmet on the slopes. Now, in what feels like a case of déjà vu, Governor Jerry Brown has again vetoed a ski helmet bill. There is one main difference between the two vetoes, however: while Governor Schwarzenegger supported ski helmets, he struck down the bill because it included various other ski resort regulations. Governor Brown, on the other hand, justified his veto with an argument that parents, not the state, should make the decisions that affect their children.

However, helmet advocates are arguing that parental supervision is doing little to prevent fatal brain injuries on California ski hills. According to the Federal Consumer Products Safety Commission, more than 7,000 head injuries could be prevented or reduced in severity every year if skiers wore helmets. Further, the Commission found that over half of head injuries to children under the age of 15 could be addressed by the use of a helmet.

The now-dead bill, which was passed by the California legislature last month, would have required all skiers and snowboarders under the age of 18 to wear helmets. The bill permitted local law enforcement to issue fines not exceeding $25 to the parents of children who were caught without a helmet. In addition, the bill required ski resorts to post descriptions of the law and the consequences of violating it on their ski hills, trail maps, and websites.

The California legislature is not expected to override the governor's veto.

What do you think? Should children be required to wear helmets while skiing or snowboarding?

Source: First Tracks Online, "California Ski Helmet Bill Dies Again at Governor's Desk," Sept. 8, 2011

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