BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ó


          |SENATE RULES COMMITTEE            |                   SB 105|
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                                 THIRD READING

          Bill No:  SB 105
          Author:   Yee (D), et al.
          Amended:  4/12/11
          Vote:     21

           SENATE HEALTH COMMITTEE  :  8-1, 3/23/11
          AYES:  Hernandez, Strickland, Alquist, Blakeslee, De León, 
            DeSaulnier, Rubio, Wolk
          NOES:  Anderson

           SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE  :  Senate Rule 28.8

           SUBJECT  :    Public safety: snow sport helmets

           SOURCE  :     California Psychological Association

           DIGEST  :    This bill requires persons under 18 years of age 
          to wear properly fitted and fastened snow sport helmets 
          while downhill skiing or snowboarding, and establishes a 
          penalty for skiers, snowboarders, and/or their parent or 
          legal guardian for noncompliance.

           ANALYSIS  :    Existing federal law provides that the 
          Secretary of Agriculture is authorized to issue permits for 
          the use and occupancy of lands within the National Forest 
          System for Nordic and alpine skiing operations and 
          Existing state law:



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          1. Requires a person under 18 years of age to wear a 
             properly fitted and fastened bicycle helmet while 
             operating a bicycle, motorized bicycle, or riding upon a 
             bicycle as a passenger, upon the streets or any other 
             public bicycle path. 

          2. Regulates certain behavior related to recreational 
             activities and public safety, including among other 
             activities, skateboarding and recreational water use.

          3. Establishes that every person who willfully commits a 
             trespass by knowingly skiing in an area or on a ski 
             trail which is closed to the public, and which has signs 
             posted indicating the closure, is guilty of a 

          4. Prohibits operators of skateboard parks from permitting 
             any person to ride a skateboard therein unless the 
             person is wearing specified protective equipment, 
             including a helmet. 

          5. Establishes that any recreational skateboard facility 
             owned or operated by a local public agency that is not 
             supervised on a regular basis can be deemed in 
             compliance with the protective equipment requirement by 
             (a) adoption of a local ordinance requiring any person 
             riding a skateboard at the facility to wear protective 
             equipment, and (b) posting signs at the facility 
             alerting riders of the requirement to wear protective 
             equipment, and stating that any person failing to do so 
             will be subject to citation.
          This bill:

          1. Prohibits persons under 18 years of age from 
             participating in the sport of downhill skiing or 
             snowboarding, or from riding upon a seat or device 
             attached to snow skies or a snowboard, without a 
             properly fitted and fastened snow sport helmet meeting 
             specified standards.

          2. Establishes a fine of $25 for any violation of this 



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          3. Requires ski resorts to post signs around the resort to 
             alert patrons about the helmet requirement for minors, 
             and the penalty for noncompliance. 

          4. Requires ski resorts to provide written notice of the 
             helmet requirement for minors on all trail maps and 
             resort websites.

          5. Makes the parent or legal guardian of an unemancipated 
             minor jointly and severally liable with the minor for 
             the fine. 

          6. Exempts Nordic skiing (i.e. cross-country) from these 

          7. Provides that the bill does not increase or decrease 
             unspecified duties imposed under existing law.


           Risk of injury from skiing  .  According to the National Ski 
          Areas Association, serious injuries (paraplegics, serious 
          head and other serious injuries) occur at the rate of about 
          43.6 per year.  In the 2007/08 season, there were 41 
          serious injuries.  Thirty-two of these serious injuries 
          were skiers and nine were snowboarders.  The rate of 
          serious injury in 2007/08 was 0.68 per million 
          skier/snowboarder visits.  According to a Centers for 
          Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study in the journal, 
          Wilderness and Environmental Medicine, more people are hurt 
          snowboarding than any other outdoor activity, accounting 
          for a quarter of emergency room visits.  Almost 213,000 
          people were treated each year in emergency departments for 
          outdoor recreational injuries from 2004 to 2005.  Of those 
          injured, approximately 109,000 (51.5 percent) were young 
          people between the ages of 10 and 24. 

           Ski helmet usage  .  The purpose of the helmet is to 
          partially absorb the force of blunt trauma and dissipate 
          the energy so that the head alone does not sustain the 
          total force of the blow.  While helmets do not decrease the 
          risk of injury, they can decrease the severity.  Ski 
          helmets are graded on their ability to withstand frontal 
          blunt and sharp impact, retention strength, and resistance 



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          to roll off.  American standards indicate that those 
          helmets with a rating of RS 98 from the Snell Memorial 
          Foundation of the American National Standards Institute 
          (ANSI) have the highest level of protection in all tested 
          areas of impact. 

          Helmet utilization in the U.S. is increasing by about five 
          percent per year for the last several years.  In the 
          2004/05 season, the overall usage of helmets among the 
          general public (skiers and snowboarders) was estimated to 
          be 33.2 percent.  It was higher among children nine and 
          under at 66 percent; it was next highest among those over 
          65, at 46 percent.  Only 19 percent of entry level skiers 
          and snowboarders used a helmet versus advanced/expert at 45 
          percent.  Among males, 35.2 percent used a helmet, and 30.4 
          percent of females wore a helmet.  The National Ski Areas 
          Association says that 48 percent of skiers and snowboarders 
          in the US wore helmets in the 2008-09 season.

          In January 1999, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety 
          Commission (CPSC) released a report on an investigational 
          study of skiing- and snowboarding-related head and neck 
          injuries, in an attempt to determine whether helmets would 
          have prevented or reduced the severity of the injuries they 
          studied. They note that head injuries account for 14 
          percent of skiing and snowboarding accidents, as well as 56 
          percent of related deaths.  Falls were the leading cause of 
          head and neck injuries, when individuals either hit a 
          surface (48 percent) or hit their ski equipment (21 
          percent).  Approximately two-thirds of the falls to a 
          surface resulted in injuries to parts of the head which 
          were identified as addressable by use of a helmet.  
          Overall, the study indicated that 44 percent of head 
          injuries, an estimated 7,700 injuries annually, could be 
          addressed by helmet use.  The study also showed that for 
          children under 15 years of age, 53 percent of head injuries 
          (approximately 2,600 of the 4,950 head injuries annually) 
          are addressable by use of a helmet.  

          An article in the LA Times by Bill Becher titled "Headway 
          on the Slopes," published in February 2006, quoted Dr. 
          Stuart Levy of Denver whose research shows that ski helmets 
          can cut the rate of head injuries by two thirds and the 
          risk of ski or snowboard fatalities by 80 percent.  Brent 



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          Hagel of the University of Calgary studied crashes at 19 
          Canadian ski resorts and concluded that helmets reduced the 
          risk of serious head injury to skiers and snowboarders by 
          56 percent. 

          The U.S. CPSC noted that studies have shown safety helmets 
          for motorcycling and bicycling provide effective protection 
          against head and brain injuries, including severe brain 
          injuries.  They believe it is reasonable to suggest from 
          the bicycling and motorcycling experience that a skiing 
          helmet that meets a suitable standard could provide 
          effective protection against head and brain injuries in 
          many types of skiing-related incidents involving head 
          impact.  Based on this information as well as their 
          investigational study, they conclude that the use of 
          helmets will reduce the risk of head injury associated with 
          skiing and snowboarding. 

           FISCAL EFFECT  :    Appropriation:  No   Fiscal Com.:  Yes   
          Local:  Yes

           SUPPORT  :   (Verified  4/12/11)

          California Psychological Association (source) 
          American Academy of Pediatrics
          American Federation of State, County and Municipal 
          California Brain Injury Association 
          California Chapter of the American College of Emergency 
          California Chiropractic Association
          California Emergency Nurses Association
          California Hospital Association
          California Medical Association
          California Nurses Association
          California Psychiatric Association
          California School Nurses Organization
          California Ski and Snowboard Safety Organization
          California Ski Industry Association
          California Society of Industrial Medicine and Surgery
          California Society of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
          Child Abuse Prevention Center
          Children's Specialty Care Coalition
          Consumer Attorneys of California



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          National Ski Area Association
          Richmond Area Multi-Services, Inc.

           OPPOSITION  :    (Verified  4/12/11)

          Capitol Resource Family Impact

           ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT  :    The California Psychological 
          Association claims neuropsychological research has shown 
          that half of all skiing deaths are caused by a head injury. 
           Observations on acute rehabilitation units from brain 
          injured patients demonstrates that individuals who wore 
          helmets during their accidents seemed to have less severe 
          injuries and were consequently discharged earlier, with 
          less in the way of post-discharge services.  Individuals 
          wearing helmets were more likely to return to pre-accident 
          levels of functioning sooner, compared to their 
          non-helmeted counterparts.  

          The California Ski Industry Association claims that winter 
          sports carry inherent risks and studies show helmet use in 
          many situations can lessen the risk of head injuries.  The 
          most recent study by the National Ski Areas Association 
          shows that approximately 85 percent of kids under nine 
          years of age and 75 percent of kids under 14 currently wear 
          helmets.  They believe this bill, along with their national 
          campaign "Lids on Kids," will do much to educate the public 
          about the need to wear helmets when skiing or snowboarding.

           ARGUMENTS IN OPPOSITION  :    Capitol Resource Family Impact 
          writes:  "The bill fails to see the burden on businesses by 
          mandating signage and written notifications as well as the 
          overstepping bounds of state government in usurping the 
          rights of the parent to make decisions for their children.  
          Not only are there not enough resources to monitor who 
          wears and doesn't wear a helmet but also who will do the 
          monitoring and who will hand out the violation ticket.  
          Advocates have equated this bill with other laws in 
          California, they fail to acknowledge those laws are geared 
          towards individuals who often ride on busy streets and do 
          so where police officers may cite them for not wearing a 
          helmet.  However, law enforcement does not roam the slopes 
          of a ski resort nor is the snowboarder or skier in danger 
          of being hit by a moving vehicle."  



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          CTW:mw  4/12/11   Senate Floor Analyses 

                         SUPPORT/OPPOSITION:  SEE ABOVE

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