Skateboarding caused approximately 120,000 injuries in 2014, says the Insurance Information Institute (III). Nearly half of these injuries affected young people between the ages of 15 and 24, followed by children ages 5 to 14. House Representative Richard Stark of District 104 wants to do something about those injuries.
Mandatory Helmet Law for Young Skateboarders
Representative Stark, who represents a portion of Broward County, recently proposed a bill in Congress that would require all children under the age of 16 to wear a helmet while riding a skateboard or scooter. This law would add to the existing laws that require helmets for children riding bicycles, horses, and motorized vehicles like ATVs.
The goal of this proposed law would be to reduce the number of skateboard-related injuries, especially head injuries which can be fatal. “Anytime you can pass a bill that is going to prevent fatalities and injuries, it’s a good thing,” says Representative Stark.
Why Young Skateboarders Should Always Wear a Helmet
Skateboarding is a skill-intensive activity. It takes physical skills and critical thinking abilities that young children simply have not developed yet. Children under the age of five should never ride a skateboard, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). And children between the ages of six and 10 should be under the close supervision of an adult.
Excellent balance and lightning-quick reflexes are a requirement to safely ride a skateboard. Children have a higher center of gravity than adults which means they are more likely to fall while skateboarding. Many young children have slower reaction times than many older skateboarders. Skateboards also require regular maintenance. Young children are less likely than older riders to keep their skateboard in good condition.
Loose gravel, road or sidewalk debris, uneven surfaces, homemade ramps, and even wet pavement are among the most common causes of skateboarding falls. But even with the best of conditions, an inexperienced skateboarded may lose his/her balance and hit his/her head, fall into the path of traffic, or collide with a pedestrian. Skateboard injuries can result in severe brain injuries or even death when the skater is not wearing a helmet.
All this adds up to one simple truth: Everyone, especially children under 16, should wear a helmet while skateboarding.
How to Select the Right Helmet for your Child
A properly fitted skateboard helmet should be flat on the head, sitting low on the forehead with the bottom edge parallel with the ground, says SkateboardSafety.org. You want to find a helmet with a chin strap that forms a “V” shape around each ear. The helmet should fit snuggly so that it stays put when you shake your head or interfere with your vision or hearing.
You need to replace helmets every five years or immediately after they sustain any damage (visible or not).
The Future of Representative Stark’s Bill
Head injuries are far too common in skateboarding. While Representative Stark’s helmet bill could do a lot to reduce these injuries, it still needs to go through both the House and the Senate before it becomes law.
For more information about keeping your kids safe, check out our blog. And if you or a loved one needs help after an accident, contact the Montero Law Center at 954-767-6500.