The National Ski Areas Association conducted a study during the 2008-2009 season which shows that in the last two ski seasons, helmet use by skiers and snowboarders has increased 12 percent. Now, three states, California, New York and New Jersey, are considering passing laws that would make it illegal to ski or snowboard without a helmet. Here are some statistics from the study:
- 77 percent of children age 9 or younger wear helmets.
- 66 percent of children between the ages of 10 and 14 wear helmets.
- 63 percent of adults age 65 or older wear helmets.
- 48 percent of U.S. skiers and boarders wear helmets which is up from 43 percent in 2007 and is compared to a 25 percent helmet usage during the 2002-2003 season.
- The percent of helmet usage increases with level of ability. 26 percent of beginners, 38 percent of intermediates and 55 percent of advanced skiers and boarders wear helmets.
- Helmet sales increased 43 percent between 2006 and 2008 and sales of adult helmets skyrocketed 50 percent in the 2006-2007 alone.
- 32 percent of those ages 18 to 24 wear helmets which is a 78 percent increase since the 2002-2003 season.
The question is whether it is appropriate to legislate helmet use. Utah is a very pro-individual, anti-government in your personal life kind of state. That is, unless it involves certain issues the legislature does not like – what a woman does with her body when it comes to reproductive rights, what consenting adults do in their own homes, what the federal government does with its land, etc., the view is do what you want – that includes guns on campuses and most public places and the like.
Given the prevailing sentiment, I’m not holding my breath for any helmet use legislation here anytime soon. The same can be said for motorcycle helmet use – in Utah, you are free to ride around with your head being a ripe pumpkin ready to explode upon impact if you like, no matter how crazy that seems. With luck, other states will see the wisdom of passing such legislation so that those who refuse to look out for themselves or those that don’t know any better have a fighting chance in the event they are in an accident.
Bret Hanna of Wrona DuBois in Utah, focuses exclusively on litigating plaintiffs’ medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. He has represented clients in state and federal courts, in mediations, and in administrative proceedings in Michigan and Utah since 1991.