New Jersey is set to begin enforcing a new law this weekend that will require skiers and snowboarders under the age of 18 to wear a helmet while on the slopes. The law was passed last April, and makes the state the first in the nation to require minors to wear protective head gear.
The new law requires parents to ensure that their minor children are wearing helmets at all times, including while they’re on rope tows and lifts, or face a fine. The penalty for a first offense is $25, with each additional infraction setting them back as much as $100. The hope is that this move will make skiing and snowboarding safer activities for young people.
While New Jersey isn’t well known as a ski destination, it does have several resorts, most of which are set to open for the winter season by this holiday weekend. Warmer than normal weather has kept snow away for the most part and hampered efforts to make artificial snow as well. But resorts such as Mountain Creek are optimistic that they’ll be open in time for the Christmas holiday. In preparation for that opening, and this new law, the resort has doubled the number of rental helmets that it has on hand.
The question is, would a law requiring helmets actually catch-on in states that are more well known as ski destinations, such as Colorado or Utah? California governor Jerry Brown has already vetoed such a law, but did so out of concern for more and more authority being handed over from parents to the state. He did say that he appreciated the value of wearing a helmet however, but inferred that it wasn’t the state’s duty to mandate it.
Considering more and more people are wearing helmets while on the slopes already, I don’t think such a law would be met with much opposition. Much like wearing a seat belt while driving these days, it just makes good sense to wear a helmet as well. It’ll be interesting to see if other states follow New Jersey’s lead or if they’ll take California’s approach and put the onus back on the parents.