Ski helmet bill vetoed by Schwarzenegger |

Ski helmet bill vetoed by Schwarzenegger

Provided to the Tribune

SACRAMENTO – California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a package of bills Friday that would have established California as a national leader in snow sport safety.

Assembly Bill 1652 authored by Assemblymember Dave Jones (D-Sacramento) and co-authored by Senator Yee (D- San Francisco), and Senate Bill 880, authored by Senator Yee and co-authored by Assemblymember Jones, took a broad approach in promoting increased safety for skiers and snowboarders by requiring better signage, accident and injury reporting and mandatory helmet use for kids.

The Governor’s veto of AB 1652 means SB 880 will not become law. Both bills contained language making each bill contingent on the other, so by vetoing one bill (ski safety) and signing the other (ski helmets), the Schwarzenegger assured that neither bill will become law.

“I am very disappointed that the governor vetoed AB 1652 given the fact there was no opposition to the bill,” Jones said. “It is highly unusual for a Governor to substitute his personal judgment about the impact on the industry for the industry’s own judgment. This bill had no opposition because everyone, except for the governor, recognizes how important injury prevention and safety are, especially for children.”

AB 1652 was sponsored by the California Ski and Snowboard Safety Organization, founded by Dr. Dan Gregorie.

“We fully appreciated the ski industry’s collaboration and support on both AB 1652 and SB 880, bills that would have provided for the use of helmets and increased access to snow sport safety information,” said Dr. Gregorie. “By obtaining data specific to the ski resorts, individuals and families would have been able to make informed decisions about their own snow sport experiences.”

California has 32 largely unregulated ski resorts. Currently, consumers only have had access to data on injuries or fatalities occurring at ski resorts that has been aggregated nationally by the ski industry. With AB 1652, consumers would have been able to get information about overall death and injury statistics and relative safety performance at individual ski resorts.

Studies have shown that traumatic brain injuries are one of the leading causes of injury-related deaths among skiers and snowboarders, with children particularly at risk. A 2008 study conducted by University of Washington professor Peter Cummings concluded that the use of helmets could reduce the risk of serious injury in up to 60 percent of all snow sport accidents.

Assembly Bill 1652 would have required California ski resorts to make public reports about all fatal injuries occurring at the resort. It also would have required resorts to create and make public annual safety plans, and implement better signage warning of boundaries and other dangers. AB 1652 was approved by the Assembly by a vote of 51-22. Senate Bill 880, authored by Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), would have required all children under age 18 to wear helmets while skiing and snowboarding. SB 880 was approved by the Senate by a vote of 22-11.

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