Helmets Compulsory in New York
New Legal Obligation for Children To Wear Helmets on New York State Ski Slopes
By Patrick Thorne.

New York state’s senate has passed a law that requires any child skier or snowboarder aged under 14 years to wear a protective helmet on the slopes at the state’s ski areas.

"Skiing is a relatively safe sport made safer by the use of a helmet," said Betty Little, a Republican from Queensbury who sponsored the bill.

"More people, children and adults alike, are wearing helmets each year recognizing that a traumatic brain injury is life altering. Requiring kids to wear a helmet is a reasonable and smart approach to keep them safe," Little added.

Helmet use for children on ski slopes was first made a legal requirement in Italy on January 1st, 2004 and France followed the Italian lead soon after, as did some areas of Austria and some other countries, including some of the smaller states and provinces in the US and Canada that lack major ski areas.
Various laws along similar lines have also been attempted elsewhere, notably on multiple occasions in California, but they failed to make it on to the statute books.

Initially contentious, over the past decade the move to make helmet wearing a legal requirement, particularly for children, has become less of an issue as most parents make their children wear helmets anyway and many ski resorts require anyone in their ski schools as well as their on-slope staff to wear helmets.

New York state is the first region containing some major resorts, including ski slopes at Lake Placid , which has twice hosted the Winter Olympics, to pass such a law. The state is in fact home to more than 50, mostly small to medium sized ski areas, which are all said to be in favour of the new law.

The terms and conditions, including the age to which children must wear helmets and the penalties for not doing so, as well as whether the ski area or the parent or both are liable, varies from one region or country to another.

In New York state the new law is probably the most lenient in that regard with children aged up to 14 required to wear a helmet and parents liable for a small fine of $50 (US) if they’re found on the slopes without one. The fine can however be waived if the parent shows they have acquired a helmet between being charged with the offence and a subsequent court date. Ski areas are to post signs warning of the new rules and also detail them on lift tickets and other literature.


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