Senate set on safer slopes

Courtesy of Whiteface Mountain

Hitting the slopes may become safer as the New York State Senate passed legislation requiring protective headgear for children at ski resorts.

The bill (S.1376) is intended to help prevent children from sustaining dangerous head injuries while participating in winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding.

The legislation, sponsored by Senator Betty Little, R-Queensbury, requires skiers and snowboarders under the age of 14 to wear a protective helmet while riding the slopes in New York. This is the second time the legislation has successfully made its way through the Senate. The bill was previously passed by the Senate in June 2017, but died in the Assembly.

Other co-sponsors of the bill include Tony Avella, D-Queens; Phil Boyle, R-Bay Shore; John DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse; and Terrence Murphy, R-Yorktown.

The bill is modeled after the New York State Bicycle Helmet Law, which aimed to decrease the number of head injuries suffered by children while riding bikes in New York State. It will require that all skiers under the age of 14 wear protective helmets that are fastened securely to their head.

While statistics support the fact that skiing is a relatively safe sport with 2.6 injuries per 1,000 skier visits, head injuries make up approximately 14 percent of all injuries suffered.

In New York state, there has been support from ski organizations, specifically from Ski Areas of New York Inc..

“Eighty-five percent of kids under 14 already wear helmets when they’re on the slopes, this legislation getting passed will solidify that the remaining 15 percent of kids under 14 will wear helmets,” said president of Ski Areas of New York Scott Brandi. “This legislation essentially requires parents to buy adequate helmets for their children.”

Brandi also feels confident that this version of the legislation will get enough support from the state Assembly.

“The key to this legislation passing is getting enough Assembly support, we are close to identifying a sponsor from the Assembly, which would help the process.”

The legislation has been delivered to the Assembly and if it becomes a law will go into effect 180 days later. If the law were to go into effect, New York would be the second state in the United States to implement a ski/snowboard helmet law. New Jersey was the first state to do so in 2011.