Helmet Bills Update

Last week, New Jersey became the first state in the nation to pass a ski helmet mandate. Gov. Christie signed the bill (S130) on April 8 that requires individuals under the age of 18 to wear a helmet while downhill skiing or snowboarding. The measure provides favorable language for ski areas from an enforcement and liability standpoint, stating “[N]othing in this act shall be construed to extend liability to the ski area operator.”

New York’s helmet bill, S.4356, picked up serious steam this week with the news of NJ’s bill becoming law. The Massachusetts General Assembly has a ski helmet bill pending (H. 638) that would require ski areas in the state to include helmets for free with equipment rental and require resorts to post injury data online. The bill does not require individuals to wear helmets, and is the most succinct bill to date on the subject: Chapter 143 of the General Laws is hereby amended in Section 71N by adding after subsection (6) to following two new subsections: (7) All ski areas must provide helmets free of charge for all rentals. (8) Ski areas must post their accident and safety records online for public access.

The bill is currently pending in the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security, and NSAA is working with the Massachusetts resorts in responding to this bill. California’s SB 105, an under 18 helmet mandate bill, passed the Senate Health Committee last month and is likely to pass on the Senate floor any day. The Illinois Helmet bill, SB 57, (see February 15 Capital Watch for more info) was defeated in Committee last month. Ski areas opposed the measure, which would have required helmets for all ages and placed the burden of enforcement on ski areas. Click here to learn more.