For many of us, there is a point in our young lives when wearing a helmet while bicycling, skateboarding or rollerblading becomes “uncool” according to our peers. Or, even as we age, we might feel more confident in our abilities and decide we can forgo the helmet.
There is no way to tell precisely why individuals avoid this incredibly important safety measure. However, some hope that recent accidents could change that perspective.
April skateboard accident left a man with a traumatic brain injury
Steve Schellings’ 19-year-old son is an experienced skateboarder. And according to Seattle’s King5 News, he was not wearing a helmet when he attempted a trick and crashed.
Now, Aidan Schellings is in the hospital–and could be for nearly a year–recovering from a devastating and possibly life-changing brain injury.
A call to change state helmet regulations
Schellings hopes his son’s accident will lead people, especially skateboarders, to change their perspectives about wearing helmets. They are a simple way to prevent tragic accidents and save lives.
And that is also motivating Schellings to call Washington to change their helmet laws to protect individuals against injury. He is working to:
- Make helmet use mandatory at skateparks around the state
- Provide low-price helmets to low-income children
- Obtain endorsements for helmets from manufacturers and professionals
From his experience, he believes that changing the culture surrounding helmets is just as important as changing the laws.
So, what are Washington’s current helmet laws?
Washington does not actually have a state law that regulates helmet use for recreational activities like bicycling and skateboarding. Several cities and counties have helmet laws, but there is no overarching state law.
And although motorcyclists and skateboarders face very different risks and often have very different cultures, the state stance on motorcycle helmet laws might have a significant influence on other helmet use laws.
Right now, motorcyclists must wear helmets by law. However, a new Senate Bill 5007 proposes that riders over 21 could choose whether or not they wish to wear a helmet.
It is not accurate to compare a skateboarder’s situation to a motorcyclist’s. However, both do face the risk of catastrophic injuries if they do not wear a helmet.
And the new bill about motorcycle helmet use has some worried how any other helmet laws might fare in Washington.
Even without a law, helmets are still essential
Currently, the Seattle bicycle helmet laws could leave those who do not wear them facing a ticket and a fine of nearly $80. A statewide law covering helmets for all sorts of recreational activities would likely work similarly.
However, even without a law or the risk of a fine, it is critical–and easy–to wear a helmet to prevent severe head injuries.