Helmet law for young skiers advances in N.J.

Sponsors of a bill that would require kids in New Jersey to wear helmets while skiing say the measure is the closest it has ever been to becoming law.

A similar bill passed the Senate in 1991 but failed to move forward after facing opposition from the skiing industry. Versions have been bouncing around the Legislature ever since.

This session, the bill passed through the Senate and got through an Assembly committee last week. It now waits on a full Assembly vote and an OK from Gov. Chris Christie.

The bill had been rewritten so that parents, instead of ski resorts, would be fined if there were violations.

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“Now, because we changed the onus to being on the parents, I think it has a better shot of going through,” said Sen. Joe Pennacchio, a sponsor of the bill.

Co-sponsor Sen. Anthony Bucco added that more skiers have voluntarily worn helmets in recent years. That has helped raised awareness and helps the cause.

“Watching the Olympics last year, all of the different sports in the Winter Olympics, all wore helmets,” Bucco said. “They realize the dangers in some of these sports and they make sure the Olympians wear helmets.”

Legislators in New York and California are considering similar measures. The law in New Jersey would apply only to kids under 14.

The bill has been championed throughout the process by a New Jersey doctor whose daughter died in a skiing accident more than 20 years ago.

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