California Senate approves helmet bill


With summer around the corner, it's tough to think about next winter, but lawmakers are doing just that. On Tuesday, they took a major step forward in mandating that kids under 18 wear helmets while skiing or snowboarding.

"Nearly 7,000 head injuries on the slopes could have been prevented, had children worn a helmet. This is really about safety," State Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, said.

Recent studies compiled by the California Psychological Association show that when helmets are used on the slopes, the incidence of traumatic brain or head injury is reduced by nearly 30 percent.

Young snowboarders ABC7 spoke to aren't very happy with being forced to wear helmets. If it's eventually signed into law, kids face a $25 fine.

"A lot of what snowboarding, what makes it great is you're so free and you can express your creativity a lot. If you're forced to wear a helmet, it takes away a lot of the riders' creativity," snowboarder Julian Sander said.

"You don't usually fall on your head when you're snowboarding. It's more your butt and your back. So I don't really think it'll help that much," snowboarder Adam Pettigrew said.

The proposal barely got enough votes to pass off the Senate floor on Tuesday.

One Republican, Sen. Dave Cox, provided the vote that sent it over the top. And for that, Senator Yee gave the avid skier a helmet.

The rest of the GOP senators, though, think this bill goes too far and considers it one of many so-called "nanny" bills that tells people how to run their lives.

"In reality, we may as well pass a bill that makes all kids in cars at all times wear a helmet. That's how we're going to somehow create a safe, risk-free society," State Sen. George Runner, R-Lancaster, said.

The helmet proposal got a big boost earlier this year when Dr. Phil threw his support behind it on one of his shows. He said adults have to protect kids from themselves.

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