What are we waiting for?
March 18, 2002
It was with much surprise that I read in your paper on Thursday that the Pitkin County Commissioners had “briefly debated” the issue of mandatory helmets for kids based on a letter I had submitted to them.
I would have loved the opportunity to attend the work session and heard their comments but I wasn’t informed that it had even made the agenda.
I would have loved the opportunity to include the doctors, police, firefighters, ski instructors and parents who have called me since my first letter, offering their support.
I visited Denver last week and attended a day at the Capitol with Denver Children’s Hospital and Denver’s SAFE KIDS Chapter. If was very interesting.
There is currently a bill before our Colorado legislators that would require all children weighing over 40 pounds who are under 4 feet, 9 inches to be restrained in a booster seat when riding in a car.
With all the statistics in place it seems like a no-brainer; however, somewhere along the delicate ping-pong game between the House and Senate an amendment was made that would require seat belts on school buses and all of a sudden the “cost” of the bill skyrocketed and it now faces a rough ride to becoming law.
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Realizing the “ski industry” has a huge lobby and doesn’t want to be portrayed as a “dangerous” sport, I can see what a helmet law might be up against. I guess I just don’t understand how instrumental officials can say “no mandatory helmet rule/law on the short-term horizon” or “in 5 to 10 years helmets will be required on slopes.”
What are we waiting for? Our most tragic year on the slopes hasn’t ended; we lost perhaps the youngest skier ever on our slopes, but maybe we can look at the growing evidence and come away with a new awareness that helmets may potentially save a few lives.
I spoke with an injury specialist in Denver who told me there are three things that need to be in place to change behavior: comprehensive education, which the NSAA intends on rolling out (as has the Aspen Skiing Co. most recently); a law; and enforcement of that law.
I understand we need to start somewhere, and education is definitely the place – not just printing things on maps and signs but “telling” people, talking to people, educating people, showing people, requiring people.
No, this is not Disneyland, but even in Disneyland those that aren’t “this tall” are prohibited from enjoying rides with greater risk. Everything we do has risks. What is wrong with doing what we can to reduce those risks for our children?