California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed two bills late last Friday that would have established California as a national leader in ski safety. The two bills together promoted safety by requiring better signage, accident and injury reporting and mandatory helmet use for children.
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), Schwarzenegger made an empty gesture supporting helmet use. California has 32 largely unregulated ski resorts.
AB 1652 was sponsored by the California Ski and Snowboard Safety Organization, founded by Dr. Dan Gregorie. The website California Ski and Snowboard Safety highlights thew work performed by the organization.
The public only has access to data on injuries or fatalities occurring at ski resorts that has been aggregated nationally by the ski industry. Under AB 1652, consumers would have been provided information about overall death and injury statistics and relative safety performance at individual California ski resorts. It also would have required resorts to create and make public annual safety plans, and implement better signage warning of boundaries and other dangers.
Senate Bill 880 would have required all children under age 18 to wear helmets while skiing and snowboarding. 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.