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California legislature passes ski helmet law

Earlier this week, the California state legislature passed a bill that requires all skiers and snowboarders under the age of 18 to wear helmets while on the ski slopes. If the law is signed by California Governor Jerry Brown, the state will become the most restrictive, in terms of requirements for both skiers and ski resorts, of any state in the country.

SB 105 was introduced by California Senator Leland Yee of San Francisco, who wrote the bill in an effort to reduce the number of traumatic brain injuries that occur on ski hills. The law will permit local law enforcement authorities to issue fines to the parents of children under the age of 18 who are caught skiing or snowboarding without a helmet. The fine amount may not exceed $25. In addition, the law requires ski resorts to post warnings and descriptions of the law and the consequences of violating it on their websites, ski hills, trail maps, and other documents.

According to the National Ski Areas Association, half of all people who died on ski slopes in the U.S. during the 2009-2010 ski season were not wearing helmets when they were injured. Senator Yee says that preventing head injuries among children should be a priority among state lawmakers and citizens alike. "When you have thousands of accidents where there are brain injuries of some sort, nearly half of those injuries could have been prevented if the youngsters wore a helmet," he said.

Now, the bill will go to Governor Jerry Brown, who has 12 days to sign the bill. Last year, then-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a similar bill because it included various other ski resort regulations. Governor Brown has not indicated whether he plans to sign the bill.

Source: NBC Los Angeles, "Ski Helmet Bill Headed to Governor's Desk," Scott Weber, August 17, 2011

Source: KTLA, "Ski Helmet Bill Heads Back to Governor's Desk," August 15, 2011

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