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NJ Helmet Law Bill A3612 Makes Ski Areas Responsible Not Parents

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

The current proposed NJ Helmet Law Bill A3612 requires all children under age 14 to wear a helmet while skiing or snowboarding.  In the current form of the bill, ski areas are responsible if a 13 year old child is hurt while not wearing a helmet.  Most ski area associations would prefer a helmet law based on current bicycle laws where the parents are held responsible. 


I am guessing that the lawyers are lobbying for the current form of the bill so they can make a lot of money by making  ski areas responsible.  Even the extremely poor lift attendant may be held responsible for letting a 13 a year old child load a chair lift without a helmet.


Just how ski areas or anyone else besides parents could enforce helmets use for under 14 year olds is beyond me.  What child carries around documentation proving how old he or she is.  Only the parents know for sure how old their child is. 


If you live in NJ please contact your local politician to change Bill A3612 to make ski and snowboard helmet law based on current bicycle laws where parents are held accountable for children not wearing required helmets.


If the lawyers get their way,  ski ticket prices will take a huge increase where ever parents are not held accountable for children not wearing helmets required by local state laws. 

Edited by catskills - 5/29/2009 at 11:47 pm GMT
post #2 of 22

How about we make a new catergorie for helmets. we've had enough posts!


But this is really great. Why would a parent want to risk their kids' life when it could be easily saved in the event of a nasty crash.

post #3 of 22

I think the problem is that some older kids might shuck the helmet the minute mom's back is turned.  This is totally uncontrollable on bicycles unless you never let them leave the driveway, but in skiing there is another person who can control this...sort off...the liftie.  Of course nothing prevents the determined kid from taking it off at the top and using it as a lunch pail.  What's needed is a parental lock to keep it on the kid's head.

post #4 of 22
I think more over-regulation and needless, destructive litigation is just the thing to revitalize the Northeast's economy! Two thumbs up!
post #5 of 22

That does it! I am can canceling my family ski trip to New Jersey, :)

post #6 of 22




post #7 of 22

Of course the ski area must be held responsible.

You can't expect people to be responsible for themselves, or when they are too young have the responsibilities fall on their legal guardians! 

We are talking about the U.S.A. here.  Nobody is responsible for their own actions and safety.   Someone else has to take responsibility and make decisions for them, if not Big Brother, Nanny State, then surely the ski area, the bar, the police officer who didn't give the speeders enough tickets, the......



post #8 of 22

As an underlying point behind this type of thing, the plaintiff's bar and the safety nannies are not your friend if you like sports, period.  But, legislators are elected and do listen when they get focused groups of people calling in.  In terms of wedge issues, this type of thing could easily broaden to affect the average New Jerseyite, so while NJ resorts may not be a major presence in the alpine world nor a very large part of NJ's overall economy, the principle matters a great deal.  


To state my political correctness for the record, I did wear a helmet this morning.   

post #9 of 22

The alternative bill wanted to require these:


post #10 of 22

I didn't even know you could ski in NJ........or want to

post #11 of 22

I hit my head on the car door frame the other day. Hurt like heck. When are they making helmets mandatory for driving cars?

post #12 of 22

Are quick-release bicycle wheels legal in New Jersey? 

post #13 of 22


Originally Posted by Morrison Claystone View Post

I hit my head on the car door frame the other day. Hurt like heck. When are they making helmets mandatory for driving cars?

I jumped into the back of the wagon to move a box out of the way before putting my road bike in there after riding.

A good thing I had my bike helmet on, the last time I did hit my head on the roof of the wagon putting in a heavy tump on a camping trip I was woozy for two days. 


Does New Jersey require helmets when ever you are loading a station wagon?

post #14 of 22

There were a lot of police cars at the Maryland state line Thursday evening. They were ticketing people who weren't wearing their seatbelts.  

post #15 of 22
Thread Starter 


Originally Posted by CTKook View Post
I think more over-regulation and needless, destructive litigation is just the thing to revitalize the Northeast's economy! Two thumbs up!


I can hear it now.  Parent sues ski area when child with no helmet gets permanent brain damage after ski fall.   Parent was carrying child's helmet at the time  because child refused to wear helmet.  Jury awards child $50 million because NJ ski areas are  responsible for making sure children wear helmets.


Ski areas in NJ may as well declare bankruptcy now. 

post #16 of 22

Here's another one that nearly passed in 2001 in NJ requiring ski areas to provide helmets.


Could this be the same guy with his mission in life being mandatory helmets for children behind this new attempt ?  He swore he wouldn't give up this quest.


Dr. San Agustin plans to continue his fight.

``Thirteen hard years I've been pushing for this bill,'' he said. ``I'm already planning to have the bill re-introduced. I've lost my only child, so I'm not doing this for me. It's for other families.''

-- -- --

post #17 of 22

The rest of the story, article by Martin Griff


A father continues his fight for ski-helmet bill

It's difficult to disagree with Dr. Norman San Agustin. Back in 1988, his only child, 12-year-old daughter Nikki, died from head injuries she sustained in a ski accident at the Hidden Valley ski resort in Vernon.

Since then, Dr. San Agustin, a trauma surgeon from Morristown, has been pushing to get the New Jersey state Legislature to pass a law requiring mandatory helmets for children under age 14 while they ski or snowboard. The bill would also require ski areas to provide rental helmets to children and be fined when an underage child doesn't wear a helmet on their slopes.

Seems pretty simple. Who can be against the safety of children?

Thursday, representatives of the ski industry testified against the bill at an Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee hearing.

Before testifying, Charles Blier, general manager of the Mountain Creek Resort, in Vernon, told me, ``I feel for the father who lost his daughter. He wants to make a difference, which this bill won't do.''

Blier explained: ``We are the first ones who need to be concerned about safety and we encourage changing behavior. I've often compared helmets with putting a bigger bumper on a car. If you're a reckless driver, you'll still get hurt, not matter how big the bumper is. And you'll think that you can go fast because you have a bigger bumper.''

Blier said education remains the most important way to change behavior and make skiers and snowboarders safer.

``We have nothing against the use of helmets, but the law would be unworkable and unenforceable,'' he said. ``A kid is 13 and he tells me he's 15. How do I prove it? And if he wears the helmet we rented to him and he falls, how will I know when it's returned at night that the helmet has been involved in an impact accident and needs to be returned to the manufacturer to be tested for safety?''

Dr. Jasper Shealy has studied ski injuries for 30 years. He testified before the committee that his statistics show that helmets don't protect the head against high-speed impacts and youngsters wearing helmets may take more risks and ski faster than they should because of a false sense of security provided by the helmet.

Dr. San Agustin and the bill's sponsor, Assemblyman Joseph Pennacchio (R- Morris), were among those testifying in favor of the bill, comparing it to bicycle and skateboard laws already on the books in New Jersey.

When asked by Committee chairman James Holzapfel (R-Ocean) how resorts would check ages, Pennacchio suggested the child show some type of ID.

Holzapfel then asked what type of identification a child can be expected to carry. Pennacchio offered that a parent could vouch for the child's age.

Dr. San Agustin testified that currently no state has a law requiring the use of ski helmets for any age.

``New Jersey is in a position to influence national standards,'' he said.

Several committee members found it difficult to vote against Dr. San Agustin and his bill, so they abstained, effectively killing the legislation.

While walking out of the State House Annex after the hearing, Blier said, ``There were no winners or losers today. We plan to reach out to Dr. San Agustin as soon as possible and try to work with him to address his concerns. We want to show him that we are serious about education. The emphasis has to be on education. Education would have an impact on all types of injuries, not just head injuries.''

After the hearing, I spoke with an angry Dr. San Agustin, who said, ``This is a sad day for the state. What I just witnessed was a travesty for democracy. The public supports this law and one group, the ski industry, lobbied against this bill. The representatives are elected to represent the interests of the public, not the special interests.''

When I asked him how a resort should be expected to check ages of children, he said, ``It's the responsibility of the parent to state the child's age when they buy a ticket. No child comes alone to ski. If the parent lies about the child's age, then it's the parent's responsibility. If the kid dies, then the parent would be liable.''

On the issue of damaged helmets being re-rented, Dr. San Agustin said he would rather see a child use a damaged helmet than no helmet at all.

Dr. San Agustin insists the law would be good for the ski areas: ``This should save the industry money. Insurance rates should go down at the resorts if a helmet law were in place... I don't know why I'm talking about profit _ we're talking about the lives of children. It's a win-win situation and I don't understand why any kind of responsible legislator would say no to this bill.''

Dr. San Agustin plans to continue his fight.

``Thirteen hard years I've been pushing for this bill,'' he said. ``I'm already planning to have the bill re-introduced. I've lost my only child, so I'm not doing this for me. It's for other families.''

-- -- --

I, too, must disagree with Dr. San Agustin. The ski helmet bill can't be compared to the bicycle helmet law. The ski helmet law would have required private industry to be responsible for its enforcement. That's not its job. It's the job of the parents. Both Assemblyman Pennacchio and Dr. San Agustin admitted as much.

New Jersey, with its handful of relatively small ski areas, is in no position to be on the cutting edge of ski-helmet law. Those who don't want to obey such a law could just as easily ski Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains or the Catskills of New York, where ski helmets are not required.

States that have a major stake in the ski industry do not have helmet laws. Surely their lawmakers must be in tune with the needs of the industry and the skiers.

No one is against using helmets. I wear one. My wife wears one, and our 6 year- old daughter wears one.

I hope Mountain Creek's Blier and Dr. San Agustin can work together to find a more productive way to promote skier safety than spending the next 13 years in committee hearings.

post #18 of 22

San Augustin's daughter was skiing at Hidden Valley when the accident that caused her death occured.


As an employee of Mt Creek I hope this never passes, I feel for the guy and can't imagine how horrible it must be to lose a child but I can't see any practical way to enforce a law like this.

post #19 of 22

Basically, he's holding the resort and all of us at fault when it was HIS responsibility to make sure the kid was wearing a helmet.  Did he think she had one on and she ditched it when he wasn't looking and so that's the resort's fault?  I don't know, just trying to figure out how he decided to go after the resorts.  It's not like 13 years ago there were no helmets for kids, my daughter started wearing a helmet 18 years ago, way before I was wearing one.

post #20 of 22

First of all, I support the use of helmets when skiing.

This law as proposed, as I understand is nothing more that a over-educated individual trying to further shirk his/her responsibility as a parent for the safety of his/her child.

If this person was truly interested in peoples safety why limit by age.  

The ski areas could enforce the law if it were in thier interest, but is is not. Examples of enforcement are, brakes or retention straps used on skis or snowboards. Helmets required in sponsered races, helmets required in terrain parks, roping off avalanche prone area's or unmarked obstacles and etc.

I also agree it is a short term sight of the areas not accepting of this responsibility, since long term it will probably reduce the number of skiers participating in the sport - but nowdays no one is concerned of long term results, just short term (car companys are now finding long term results are also important).

I feel bad for the family of the deceased child, but I do not accept any responsibility for the accident, that is theirs to bear.

Helmets are available in ski shops, decent bindings (safety release) as well as other type of equipment. If you or your child is participating in a activity, I believe "you are responsible" to find out about the activity and what the equipment that is available is for. This is before participating in the activity.


post #21 of 22

For anyone dealing with that type of loss it's very hard to know what they're going through.  The father sounds like he's trying to do what he subjectively views as a noble thing, but may be a bit obsessed.


The reality for parents overall though is that putting their kid on a bike, skates, letting them play football, or letting them ski or snowboard will increase the kid's risk of head injury (or other serious traumatic injuries) far more than any helmet can compensate for.  And smart behavior can mitigate some of that risk far more than wearing a helmet can.  The resort rep is exactly correct that education is a far better response. 


post #22 of 22

As a resident of NJ, I propose that all children under 14 must wear a helmet at all times....it would be easier to address all future helmet-releated issues this way.



The funny thing is there is really only Mountain Creek in NJ...... So all of this is just for a policy to cover one giant terrain park and a hand full of runs. How much tax payer $ went to pay for this?


FYI- there are 2 other ski areas-

Hidden Valley featuring 627 vertical feet with 15 runs on 36 acres......and Campgaw with 296' of thrilling vertical.......

Edited by Finndog - 6/1/2009 at 02:04 pm GMT

Edited by Finndog - 6/1/2009 at 02:15 pm GMT
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