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Wear Your Helmet--It Could be the Law Hot

Helmet Law for ChildrenNew Jersey wants kids to wear their helmetsA law that would enforce ski helmets in New Jersey just took another step to keep skiers safe.

The enforcement's focus is on children. Anyone skiing or snowboarding under the age of 18 in New Jersey would be forced to wear a helmet.

This particular movement has been fueled by studies showing a mandated law would significantly lower head injuries endured on the slopes.

Morristown Memorial Hospital recently conducted a study surveying two popular New Jersey ski areas, Mountain Creek and Hidden Valley Club. The study revealed two hills had fewer skiers wearing helmets than the national average.

However Mountain Creek Resort in Vernon, NJ disputed these findings, insisting their helmet use was above the national average. The resort also stated they have already taken precautions to head injuries, enforcing everyone under the age of 13 to use a helmet.

The hospital’s study also showed that helmet useage would be directly effective against many accidents. At moderate speeds head injuries could be cut down by 30-50 percent with the use of a helmet. But high speeds, the effectiveness would be much lower. Because children have a difficult time reaching high speeds, the law is catered to helmet use by youth, where the solution is immediate and relevant.

"Helmets can greatly reduce the threat of serious injury on ski slopes, but many people still don't wear them," said Assemblyman Anthony Bucco, one of the bill's co-sponsors. "This will make New Jersey a trailblazer in ski safety. It will make children safer immediately, but I also hope it increases awareness so that more adults wear safety equipment."

Still, many people remain skeptical towards a law in which the government mandates protective gear, especially when there is such a large discrepancy in the statistical research. Opponents to the law suggest that the energy being used by politicians should be directed towards enforcing motorcycle helmets—an activity where head injuries are significantly larger those experienced skiing.

Bill A-3320 won Assembly Committee approval January 20th. It now heads for the full Assembly consideration, where if passed, would initiate a statewide law.

Regardless of the opposing opinions, the full New Jersey Assembly will have the final say. A similar bill was rejected in 1991 after strong resistance from the ski industry.

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