California ski resorts -- and you who ski or ride their slopes -- may be faced with increased safety requirements. Legislation introduced in January in the state's congress includes a ski helmet bill and a safety bill.
Senator Yee, a Democrat from San Francisco and a child psychologist, introduced legislation in mid-January to require all children younger than 18 years old to wear helmets while skiing or snowboarding. Senate Bill 880 copies the state's bicycle helmet laws, which imposes a fine up to $25 on parents of children not wearing helmets while bicycling.
"California's ski slopes are perhaps the last area of recreation where we do not have basic safety standards in place for children," said Yee in a statement issued from his office. "Despite repeated warnings from public health experts, professional athletes, and ski resorts, each winter brings news of hundreds of unnecessary tragedies for the failure to wear a helmet."
Yee's office cited statistics to support his bill, attributing half of all skiing deaths to head injuries. The office referred to support from a study by the Federal Consumer Products Safety Commission that found more than 7,000 annual head injuries on U.S. slopes could be prevented or reduced in severity with helmets.
Assemblyman Dave Jones, a Democrat from Sacramento, introduced Assembly Bill 1652 in mid-January, too. AB 1652 ups the safety requirements for ski resorts. Resorts would be required to file annual safety plans, to make their safety plans public, to report all injuries annually, to report all fatalities within 24 hours, and to standardize safety equipment and signage at all resorts. The bill also mandates all California ski resorts to require their employees to wear helmets when skiing or snowboarding on the job and enforce minors to wear helmets. The bill may be heard in committee sessions during February.
Bob Roberts, Executive Director for California Ski Industry Association (CSIA), told OnTheSnow.com the CSIA board met in late January to discuss the position of the state's ski industry in relation to the bills. "While it is early in the game and the devil is always in the details," he said, "the CSIA board looks to oppose AB 1652 unless amended and support SB 880, if the author accepts a couple of clarifying amendments."