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Statewide Helmet Law Moves Forward in California

Statewide Helmet Law Moves Forward in California

[ Thu, 2010-04-22 15:52 ]
A family outfitted in helmets at Deer Valley Resort
Thanks in part to TV’s Dr. Phil, the State Assembly Committee in California has approved a strict law requiring everyone under the age of 18 to wear a helmet on the slopes.

It hasn’t passed—yet. But the bill introduced by Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) requiring everyone under 18 to wear a helmet at all California ski resorts has serious momentum. On Tuesday, April 20, the State Assembly Committee approved the bill, entitled SB 880, partially due to support and publicity from an unlikely source: daytime television talk show host, Dr. Phil.

On his April 13 show, Dr. Phil McGraw discussed the proposed legislation with neuropsychologist Dr. David Lechuga and former pro snowboarder Jason Brown. Lechuga is acting as a medical witness to the bill; he presented his case for mandating ski helmets to the California Assembly this week. Brown claims that a helmet saved his life when he hit a tree while snowboarding two years ago, breaking his neck and back. “I wouldn’t be living, walking, or breathing if it wasn’t for this helmet,” he said on the show.

McGraw, in turn, has given his blessing to the bill. “I think we ought to have helmet laws in every state for dangerous sports, whether you’re riding a motorcycle or snowboarding,” said McGraw. He also posted a link on Dr. Phil.com with a sample letter in support of SB 880 and link to the contact information of California state legislators by district. California already has a similar law in place that requires children to wear helmets when bicycling.

The bill also mandates that California ski resorts provide monthly summary reports of injuries and deaths on the mountain at the request of consumers.

If the bill passes, California will be the first state in the nation with a statewide helmet law. Legislators in New York and New Jersey have proposed similar bills that have stalled on the assembly floor for nearly a decade.