A few months ago, New Jersey became the first state to mandate ski helmets for children under 18. California is poised to pass a similar law by next winter, and New York appears to be next. After a string of head injury fatalities in Europe in recent years, helmet laws for kids have also passed in the Alps.
Some ski companies, such as Jackson Hole and Mammoth, have even begun requiring certain employees such as Ski Patrol to wear helmets while conducting avalanche control and other skiing activities.
Some industry experts claim that while helmets have not been proven to save lives during serious injuries, they have helped in
minor to moderate injuries. In Austria, a collision involving one helmeted skier and one unhelmeted skier resulted in a fatality for the woman not wearing a helmet, but the man wearing one survived. Helmets are known to prevent and reduce skull fractures and internal bleeds.
These are the facts.
It seems that helmet legislation is a no-brainer. Just like seat belts, perhaps we should just make everyone wear one.
However, according to NSAA, ski helmet use is up 131 percent in the past 12 years, bringing the total to 60 percent of all skiers and riders wearing helmets. 91 percent of children under 9 years old already wear them. This is up 4 percent from last year.
With this kind of increase, do we really need the legislation? Helmets are getting lighter, tougher and sexier. Many of the old complaints just don’t apply: my head gets too hot when I wear one (just open the vents and voila!), they’re too heavy (not anymore), I look like a bobble-head (check out Smith Variant Brim), helmets make my goggles fog up (au contraire!)
Ever since I ended up in the emergency room after a collision with a high-speed chairlift (totally my fault!), I started skiing around with my palms over my ears, as if trying to protect my skull. My brains felt loose and vulnerable inside my head. I had received a minor concussion, but still my brain felt cottony and slow. A few days after the accident I switched on the garbage disposal when John’s hand was down in the sink. I wasn’t thinking clearly.
I started wearing a helmet and now wear one almost every day. My goggles never fog, the vents keep me cool on warm days and the insulation keeps me warm on cold days. Helmets make great hats.
But do we need to require that everyone wear one? Do we even need to pass laws for children’s use? If almost every child wears one these days, I’m wondering how necessary the law actually is.
More important, is this trend moving towards requiring adults to wear them? What do you think?
Should we pass a law requiring children to wear a helmet? How about adults? Do you wear one? Why or why not?