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mandatory helmets ... again!

post #1 of 35
Thread Starter 
This is just a hash of yesterdays news so don't slay the messenger!

New Jersey's helmet law comes up again for a vote this week. Anyone under 14 would be required to wear helmets. The bill failed by one vote last year, however it appears that if you read between the lines, it will fail again this year. Assemblyman Peter Barnes posted the bill but abstained on voting last year, but his vote was crucial and doomed the measure to failure.

The Aspen Skiing Company, which runs the Highlands and other Aspen owned resorts announced that all ski and boarding students must wear helmets next season.

Newark Star Ledger 4/30/02
post #2 of 35
Ignoring the whole safety/behaviour thing surrounding helmets I wonder how something like this would affect the industry as a whole if it were passed. Would the extra cost of yet another piece of equipment put people off the sport or prevent others from taking skiing up? I know people who struggle to get all their equipment together at the start of a season and another hundred dollars would have them flag the sport entirely.

Also would it affect the inage of the sport - is there the automatic assumption that if a helmet is neccessary it must be a dangerous activity? Or is the greater awareness of the danger of skiing a good thing?
post #3 of 35
I think Vail was headed the way of Aspen, too. Aspen's thing might have been due to a kid in a lesson dying when she smacked into something. Helmets, I dunno. I hate them! You see people on the hill doing idiot things, wearing their helmets. It's my belief that if you crash into a tree, you are more likely to sustain internal injuries...and what kind of fool crashes into a tree anyway?
post #4 of 35
Originally posted by ant:
and what kind of fool crashes into a tree anyway?
I do. Does that make me a fool?
post #5 of 35
I doubt that after contemplating spending $1000 on equipment, someone is going to bail out on getting into the sport because of an additional $60 for a helmet.

While internal injuries can occur in addition to head injuries -- it is the head injury that is more likely to result in permanent disability and death.

I am all for helments, especially for children. We mandate many safety items for children because parents don't have the sense to do it on their own -- seems obvious in this situation as well.
post #6 of 35
After watching a buddy fly off a main run, smack a tree with his head, get hauled off and down the mountain unconcious, wake up in the hospital asking if his motorcycle was ok, and then never skiing agian cause his noggin was totally messed up, i think I am in favor of helmets.

Who hits tree's? People who ski hard and fast and aren't gapers like ANT sticking to the groomed still working on their wedge turns so they can teach 4 year olds how to ski.
Great attitude from a so called instructor and steward of the sport and industry.

Sorry for the flame, a nerve has been struck.

[ May 03, 2002, 06:02 AM: Message edited by: Argus ]
post #7 of 35

When I follow big trees down steep slopes and they pull a fast stop, Sometimes I smack 'em. They never complain, but I hurt all over.

post #8 of 35
and what kind of fool crashes into a tree anyway?

not easy to answer. you gotcher different kinds of fools. in fact, you'll find fools who DON'T crash into trees. making it hard for them to understand the kinds of fools that do.
your use of logic is intriguing.

[ May 03, 2002, 07:49 AM: Message edited by: ryan ]
post #9 of 35
Originally posted by Geoff':
</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by ant:
and what kind of fool crashes into a tree anyway?
I do. Does that make me a fool?</font>[/quote]If you were skiing in the trees - no.
If you were on a groomer - yes.
post #10 of 35
Perhaps we should ask ski resort management to place pads on the trees, because apparently the mountains are filled with fools who are constantly running into them.

Have you geniuses ever actually been off of a green run?
post #11 of 35
If we think back about bike helmets, it used to be if you wore one, you were a nerd. Now if you don't, you are considered a bone head!

I support each individuals rights to decide whether to wear a helmet or not, so I don't think there is the need for name calling. I wear one sometimes, and sometimes I don't. On the other hand, I agree that sometimes decisions need to be made for those who can't make them themselves, such as the Aspen policy with children, likely to be followed here in Vail.

Kiwiski- You sound very much like the NZSIA line that came out when I asked this question several years ago as the SSD of one of the largest ski areas in NZ. My question was- "What is the NZSIA's position regarding the endorsement of helmets?"

The powers that be(were) immediately jumped on me like a chicken in a Biafran village. They answered with the same thoughts you had- let's not tell people skiing has risks, let's not give the impression that we want them to come out and do something dangerous.

To that- I will answer now as I did then- how long will you hide your head in the sand? Just because you ignore the issue, doesn't mean it will go away!

I believe it is the professional responsibility of the NZSIA, the PSIA, the CSIA, etc to be proactive in safety issues. As it is- PSIA was very late getting on that band wagon, not getting behind helmets until the mid/late 90's. When I was teaching in Switzerland in the early 90's, it was a policy that all children in ski school must wear helmets.

If you are concerned about the perception of risk in skiing by the public, then you had better ban Warren Miller movies! His older films showed the joy and fun of skiing. The newer ones, produced by his son, while enjoyable to watch by those of us who understand them, scare the hell out of beginners, novices, and intermediates. If that's all they see, then they believe that's what skiing is! (and even most extreme skiers wear bucket these days!)

Should helmet use be regulated? Absolutely not! As an avid motorcyclist, I have always felt it should be my right to decide. I feel that way regarding ski helmets too.

I'll get off my soapbox now. That's my 2/100...

post #12 of 35
Gee, I think I flushed out the fools who crash into trees. In 36 years of skiing, I've never felt the need to crash into a tree, but I guess some people just have to do these things.

Skiing's only dangerous if you make it so. In fact, the biggest danger I see on the slopes is people who feel the need to crash into me or my companions....and it's amazing how many of these people are wearing helmets. I guess they feel more secure.
post #13 of 35
So, skiing isn't inherently dangerous except for the dangers out there? hmmmm...

Do you really think that wearing a helmet makes a person act in a more reckless manner? I think an adult that purchases a helmet is more likely to have a more cautious personality and act LESS foolishly. That isn't to say that all of those folks are skillfull. And accidents can happen to individuals of ANY level.

Another thing -- Americans want to scream individual rights and choices. However, when there are ramifications to the rest of society, sometimes society places restrictions on those choices. As a surgeon who has taken care of many people in the emergency room who have made some rather poor choices, I can tell you that many times the results of major injuries not only has economic impact on society to treat the injury acutely, but to manage disabilities chronically. Keep that in mind next time you grumble about the cost of health insurance. Sometimes that person can no longer support him/her self or their families. Their families suffer in terms of needing to provide assistence (time as well as money) to that person. These are just some of the factors that I see directly, I am sure there are others.

In any case, the laws/rules that are being discussed are for children. And I don't see any compelling argument against that.

I guess someone hit a nerve here, also...

[ May 04, 2002, 03:44 AM: Message edited by: gForce ]
post #14 of 35
I beg to differ, Gforce.
Many of the adults I've seen wearing helmets here in Italy, this (now past) winter, were wearing it
out of emulation spirit for racers.
And those people where the less cautious around that I could see!
Likewise, when the helmet was made compulsory for motorcycle riders in Italy, back in the late '80
of the past century, the motorcycles builders, were worried that this could lead to diminishing
motorbike sales. In fact it happened the contrary,
the sales increased. Now, it could have been a
coincidence, but I remember reading a newspaper where a journalist claimed to have conducted a research and that people were intrigued by helmets
(many claimed to feel like middle age armoured
cavalry...and that they liked the feeling)
BTW, I'm all for helmets while skiing, on piste or off piste.
post #15 of 35
No mandatory helmets on adults, please.

I have hit a tree. Fell at the top of a steep icy (sheet of ice) run, slid on my back gaining a lot of speed, accelerated to the side of the slope, and got stopped by a tree. Big tree. Big ow. Hitting a tree at speed was like hitting a steel pole.

Still, no helmet law please. If I want one, I'll buy one.

Kids, I don't care what you make them do. Just keep in mind that at some point they should be encouraged to develop a smidgen of common sense and judgement (and manners).
post #16 of 35
It should be up to the skier(under 18 yes) if such a law passes, on wearing a helmet. I do not wear a helmet but sometimes it might of been a good idea. Have I hit trees, buildings, towers, other skiers/riders, signs and litter on the slopes? If there is 1 rock on a groomed run that has been covered up by snow I'll hit it. :

[ May 04, 2002, 01:44 PM: Message edited by: slider ]
post #17 of 35
Not saying that helmets are a bad idea, but I question how much helmets actually protect you in a preatty severe crash. I read an article several years ago that cited a study done by some University or other that found that a helmet does no good in a head on collision with an unmovable object at speeds greater than eleven mph, while the average speed of a skier is 25-30 mph. Basicly the study is saying that a helmet really only offers protection in crashs that involve indirect or glancing blows to the head, which typically don't cause very serious injuries. Further, the article cited another study that gathered statistics on safety requirements in other walks of life. The study found that NHL players sustained a significantly greater number of head injuries the year after helmets were mandated and that nurses pricked thamselves with needles more after gloving became required. This phenomenon is attribited to a human tendency known as risk homeostasis. This is the idea that people given a small safety precaution will take risks that far outweigh the benefit of the precaution, therefore negating the benefit. Concievibly this tendency could very well cary over to skiing and actually make the sport more dangerous.
Helmets should not be mandated because it seems to me that the majority of people who would acctually be more dangerous with a helmet on are the same ones who don't wear a helmet now, so forcing helmets on them would not help the situation, while people who wouldn't turn into morons simply from wearing a helmet often times already have one.

Sory for my crappy spellin!
post #18 of 35
Well, I found a site that has compiled a lot of statistics about injuries related to helmet use in bicycles (where this is most studied), and I think much can be extrapolated to skiing. I would estimate bicycling speeds are roughly the same as recreational skiing speeds (except for the small proportion of skiiers that go exceptionally fast). I don't think the concept of "it'll only help you at speeds that you don't need them" is really substantiated.

Anyway, look at the stats and make up your own mind. Beats making decisions based on anecdotal experience, conjecture and misinformation. And I still think the law mentioned in the original post and the rules being implemented at Aspen with regards to children are hard to argue against.

Bicycle Helmet Statistics
post #19 of 35
Good site gForce, but the Consumer Products Safety Commission has studied the ski helmet issue specifically. The following comes from this site, http://www.cpsc.gov/CPSCPUB/PREREL/PRHTML99/99046.html

For the actual study, go to, http://www.cpsc.gov/library/skihelm.pdf

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
Office of Information and Public Affairs Washington, DC 20207

January 8, 1999 (301) 504-0580 Ext. 1184
Release # 99-046

CPSC Staff Recommends Use of Helmets for Skiers, Snowboarders to Prevent Head Injuries
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) staff is recommending skiers and snowboarders wear helmets to help prevent head injuries from falls and collisions. In a study released today (pdf format), the CPSC staff concluded that helmet use by skiers and snowboarders could prevent or reduce the severity of 44 percent of head injuries to adults, and 53 percent of head injuries to children under the age of 15. The proportion of skiing and snowboarding head injuries is higher in children than in any other age group.

In 1997, there were 17,500 head injuries associated with skiing and snowboarding. The CPSC study estimates that 7,700 head injuries -- including 2,600 head injuries to children -- could be prevented or reduced in severity each year by using skiing or snowboarding helmets. The study also shows that helmet use could prevent about 11 skiing- and snowboarding- related deaths annually.

"We know that helmet use can prevent serious head injuries in a wide variety of sports and activities, including bicycling and in-line skating," said CPSC Chairman Ann Brown. "This study of skiing and snowboarding shows that helmets can prevent or reduce the severity of head injuries on the slopes, just as they do on the streets."

The study of head injuries associated with skiing and snowboarding was conducted as part of CPSC's ongoing work to reduce head injuries in a variety of sports and activities.

In addition to the CPSC staff study, research in other countries has shown that helmets can help prevent head injuries to skiers. In Sweden, a national study found that head injuries among skiers wearing helmets were 50 percent lower than for skiers not wearing helmets.

According to the National Sporting Goods Association, nearly 10 million people participate in alpine skiing more than once each year. Between 1993 and 1997, the number of people who snowboard increased from 1.8 million to 2.5 million.

The CPSC study found that while overall hospital emergency room-treated injuries associated with skiing declined substantially between 1993 and 1997, the number of head injuries remained relatively constant. During the same period, snowboarding injuries nearly tripled and the number of head injuries from snowboarding increased five-fold.

From 1993 to 1997, the estimated number of hospital emergency room-treated injuries of all types associated with skiing declined from 114,400 to 84,200. The injuries have dropped, in part, because of improvements in ski equipment, such as redesigned bindings, which have reduced injuries to the legs. Head injuries were essentially unchanged at 13,600 in 1993 and 12,700 in 1997. For snowboarding, hospital emergency room treated injuries increased from 12,600 in 1993 to 37,600 in 1997. The number of head injuries associated with snowboarding increased from 1,000 in 1993 to 5,200 in 1997.

In addition to wearing helmets specifically designed for skiing or snowboarding, the CPSC recommends these additional safety tips:

Select the right equipment, and make sure items such as bindings and boots are adjusted to fit properly.
Make sure you have the proper training, and don't ski or snowboard beyond your ability.
Ski and snowboard in control, and follow the rules of the slopes.
Never ski or snowboard alone. Make sure someone is there to help you if you get hurt.
Get in shape before you hit the slopes. Making sure you are physically fit before you ski or snowboard can help prevent injuries.
Wear warm, close-fitting clothing. Loose clothing can become entangled in lifts, tow ropes and ski poles.
For more information on skiing and snowboarding safety, call CPSC's Hotline at (800) 638-2772 or go to our web site at www.cpsc.gov.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission protects the public from the unreasonable risk of injury or death from 15,000 types of consumer products under the agency's jurisdiction. To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury and for information on CPSC's fax-on-demand service, call CPSC's hotline at (800) 638-2772 or CPSC's teletypewriter at (800) 638-8270. To order a press release through fax-on-demand, call (301) 504-0051 from the handset of your fax machine and enter the release number. Consumers can obtain this release and recall information at CPSC's web site at http://www.cpsc.gov. Consumers can report product hazards to info@cpsc.gov.

I plan of finding out whether any law firms currently have ski head injury depositions available on the Internet. If so, I will post an address soon.

Adults should not be required to wear helmets. Minors should be required to wear helmets, at least to the age that they have the legal ability to make the decision.

M@tteo, I am glad that in another thread you said you are in the process of buying a helmet, I have always enjoyed and respected your opinions whether I agreed with them or not. ant, if your above posts are any indication of the quality of your participation here, please do not buy or wear a helmet, your failure to do so will statistically increase the chances of better quality responses in this forum in the future.
post #20 of 35
Nice post, counselor! Nice closing, too.
post #21 of 35
, I have always enjoyed and respected your opinions whether I agreed with them or not.
Thank you. I feel honoured. [img]smile.gif[/img]
There's no need to always agree with someone posts, after all opinions are personal.
Enjoyment and respect are things I value more than agreement. And I hope these are the things I give back to you all too.
I simply try to be myself, with all my shortcomings and all my strong points (not many hehe )
post #22 of 35

Nice post. I only disagree with having ANY required helmet usage. Don't get me wrong, my family of four all wear helmets and children will wear them until they are no longer minors and are buying their own equipment and lift tickets. I simply revolt against adding more laws to the books.

Although I disagree with ant on this topic, I have valued his input on others...
post #23 of 35
Life changing experiences occur at strange times and in strange places. That said, I agree with the many libertarian minded friends on this forum. I hate the excessive number of rules and regulations we live under, but…

I remember working in a local hospital in the 1970’s. I was only 14 and my job was Transportation Orderly, we moved people and things from one place to another in the hospital. One job was to run corpses from ER to morgue. We placed bets on how the person died, when they died, etc.

The fun quickly drained out of this game when one time I was sent to move a corpse. It was a 3 or 4 year old girl; she died in a car accident because she didn’t have a seat belt on. The seat belted mother was holding her on her lap. Mom was fine. The girl was ripped to shreds from the windshield impact. I didn’t vomit but I don’t know why (no the body’s were pretty clean before we ever saw them, but still very shocking to a 14 year old.

I am sure the mom loved the girl; she just made a very serious mistake. Helmet and seatbelt laws are modestly onerous, but not nearly as onerous as the ghost I carry with me to this day. You can wash your hands and cloths, but you cannot wash the image out of your mind. All for the lack of a helmet, or seatbelt??? Not on my watch.
post #24 of 35
Originally posted by Maddog1959:
It was a 3 or 4 year old girl; she died in a car accident because she didn’t have a seat belt on. The seat belted mother was holding her on her lap.
See it all the time, even though it's been a legal requirement for at least 14 years in the UK for kids wear seat belts. They're also supposed to use car seats or booster seats if they're under 11 and/or under 1.5 metres in height. But at least once a day, I'll see a child unbelted in a car - either sitting on an adult's lap or just rattling around the back seats. Try as I might, I find it impossible to get inside the parents' heads. This is entirely different planet stuff as far as I'm concerned.

(People who allow their dogs and other pets to roam about loose are only marginally less stupid -a 30kg alsatian hurtling through the air at 70mph can do a fair bit of damage, and not just to itself. Never mind the enormous potential for driver distraction as Fido spots a cat through the windscreen...)

The arguments about personal choice and liberty are entirely valid and of course there are inherent dangers in any form of compulsion. It took years to get the seat belt law through the British Parliament for exactly those reasons. But there are some areas where going the legal route is the only way - how many more idiots would drive around with their kids unbelted without the law? And as gForce says, it's not just the immediate victims that suffer - we all pay a price.

How this translates to helmets on the hill I'm not yet sure - need to do some more research. I've never worn one but if it was made compulsory - based on sound and irrefutable stats - then I would. I'll almost certainly go the voluntary route anyway to set an unhypocritical example to my daughter.
post #25 of 35
These threads always remind me of a girl I dated 25 years ago. When we got in my car on the first date I waited for her to put on her seat belt. When she didn't put it on I asked her to. Her response was, with a look of shock on her face, "why? Are YOU a dangerous driver??". I tried to explain I wasn't the only driver on the road. She never really caught on. End of relationship.
post #26 of 35
It was a 3 or 4 year old girl; she died in a car accident because she didn’t have a seat belt on. The seat belted mother was holding her on her lap.
I understand only too well your feelings...
Here, despite very clear laws enforcing the
madatoriety of seat belts use, and kids special seats use; many, too many drivers simply ignore it.
I once (not many years ago) did a count, and was apalled to see that out of 10 drivers, 8 were not fastening their seat belts...
Likewise, people riding motorbikes, lots of them aren't fastening their helmets!
This is because, here, people think they're smarter than laws...
Or think: It won't happen to me (by then it will be too late)
My kids are always fastening seat belts, I made them understand that it was so, not because the law demanded it, but for their own safety.
Likewise, they wear helmets when riding a bycicle,AND when skiing.
post #27 of 35
It is hard to argue against any safety measures in skiing. Taking a stand against helmets is basically absurd, but when you look at the big picture it gets more fuzzy. The fact is that helmets are but a weak measure against a sport fraught with risks. You want to prevent injury and death in skiing? Start by banning tree skiing, get rid of all the trees near trails, stop out-of-bounds skiing, implement "3 strikes and your out" rules for speeding skiers, ban poor skiers from difficult trails, etc. As absurd as this may sound, it would be far more effective than wearing helmets, because you would eliminate the cause of the problem. How safe do you want to make skiing?

My point is that there are almost no limits to making an activity safer. Many probably agree that our society has become gradually weaker and has learned to avoid responsibility for its actions. To put it bluntly, "survival of the fittest" has turned into "passage for the weakest and dumbest". This may sound harsh, but over many generations our society will barely be able to cross the street without proper safety and protection. I realize that many of you (like myself) are against mandatory helmets for adults, but I am afraid that it is only a matter of time before helmets will become mandatory. I guess it is a reasonable compromise. Just don't kid yourselves about the effectiveness of helmets. :
post #28 of 35
[img]tongue.gif[/img] I don’t see helmets becoming mandatory for adults, at least not in Oregon. For unknown reasons both seatbelts and motorcycle helmets are mandatory for adults and children, but I have not seen any current pressure for mandatory adult helmets for bicycle riders or for skier/snowboarders or water-skiers, wake boarders, rafters, or rock climbers for that matter. It appears to me that voluntary use will likely take the pressure off of lawmakers in these areas. In skiing the voluntary use seems poised to helmet a majority of skiers within a year or so. In biking it seems that voluntary use has long been above 50%. The system here (for adult safety laws) requires dead bodies stacked all about before any change takes place. This is the only explanation for the mandatory seat belt and motorcycle helmet laws. We have so few serious injuries or deaths of skiers in Oregon that I cannot believe the legislature will address this non-issue. Then again, while they are in session nothing is safe!!! [img]tongue.gif[/img]
post #29 of 35
I don't think helmets should be mandatory for adults, but think of this...

You are standing absolutely correctly in a visible spot on the side on the trail. I lose control/catch an rock/have a dizzy spell and I collide with you. You end up with a head injury. So I get the guilt (and possibly the large damages to pay when you sue me?) partly because you didn't wear a helmet.

Surely you can only really argue personal freedom when you're alone on the mountain.
post #30 of 35
Originally posted by TomB:
How safe do you want to make skiing?
It's already safe enough, and getting safer every year. The risk of a head injury is minuscule. Skiing isn't about safety -- it's about fun.

Great post, Tom!
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