TRENTON – The Senate Law, Public Safety and Veterans’ Affairs Committee approved legislation today sponsored by Senate Shirley K. Turner that would raise the mandatory age for wearing a bicycle helmet from under 14 to up to 17 years old.
“Helmets are the single most effective way to reduce the chance of sustaining a serious head or brain injury from an accident,” said Senator Turner, D-Mercer. “It is estimated that bicycle, skateboard and roller skate injuries cost American families over $8 billion each year and that much of that cost comes from head injuries. There is simply no excuse for our youngsters to go out without a helmet on.”
Senator Turner’s bill, S- 2529, would require all minors less than 17 years of age to wear a helmet when riding a bicycle, roller skates or skateboards. The law currently requires all minors under the age of 14 to wear a helmet. Over 150 states and municipalities have enacted age-specific helmet laws, and most of those laws cover bicyclists under the age of 16. California’s law is the most comprehensive with all individuals under the age of 18 required to use a helmet.
“Everyone should be using a helmet whenever they go out for a ride, whether they are nine years old or ninety,” added Senator Turner. “Teenagers don’t always use the best judgement when it comes to personal safety and this bill protects them during their most vulnerable years. Getting exercise on a bike, skateboard or roller skates is something we want to encourage, but we want to make sure that they don’t sustain a brain or head injury that can lead to serious consequences for the rest of their lives.”
The bill was passed by the Committee by a vote of 5-0 and now goes to the full Senate for approval.