Saturday, March 28, 2009

Ohio Helmet Law Proposed for Juveniles

It's come! Following the lead of other States of the Union, Ohio's House of Representatives has a helmet bill on its docket. HB 93 would require cyclists under the age of 18 to wear a helmet when operating a bike, OR if a passenger on a bike or bike trailer. Pretty simple.

If a ticket is issued but proof can later be given of the purchase of a sufficient helmet, the fine may be waived. And for the first year after passage, only a warning can be issued.

It specifically states that the fine may only be applied to cyclists and passengers operating on a roadway. I assume this means that sidewalk riders aren't included in the measure. Hopefully that's just kids learning to ride!

Malefactors would be fined $25.00. All money would go to a State Bicycle Safety Fund, to assist parents of low-income families in getting helmets for their kids, apparently.

The entire text of the bill can be seen here:

As Introduced

128th General Assembly
Regular Session
2009-2010

H. B. No. 93


Representative Skindell

Cosponsors: Representatives Murray, Letson, Harris, Phillips, Williams, S., Boyd, Domenick, Luckie, Chandler, Okey


A BILL

To enact section 4511.531 of the Revised Code to require bicycle operators and passengers under 18 years of age to wear protective helmets when the bicycle is operated on a roadway and to establish the Bicycle Safety Fund to be used by the Department of Public Safety to assist low-income families in the purchase of bicycle helmets.


BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF OHIO:

Section 1. That section 4511.531 of the Revised Code be enacted to read as follows:

Sec. 4511.531. (A)(1) No person under eighteen years of age shall operate a bicycle on a roadway unless that person is wearing an approved helmet that is of good fit and is fastened securely on the person's head.

(2) No person under eighteen years of age shall be a passenger on a bicycle on a roadway, including as a passenger in a restraining seat or in a bicycle trailer, unless the person is wearing an approved helmet that is of good fit and is fastened securely on the person's head.

(B)(1) Whoever violates division (A) of this section shall be fined twenty-five dollars. The parent, guardian, or other person having custody of the offender is responsible for the payment of any fine imposed under this division.

(2) Upon receipt by the court of satisfactory proof that the offender has a protective helmet, the court may waive the fine for the violation.

(3) All fines collected for a violation of division (A) of this section shall be forwarded to the treasurer of state and credited to the bicycle safety fund, which is hereby created in the state treasury. The department of public safety shall use the money credited to the fund to assist low-income families in the purchase of approved bicycle helmets in accordance with guidelines the director of public safety shall establish. All investment earnings of the bicycle safety fund shall be credited to the fund.

(C) The provisions of this section or a violation of those provisions shall not be used as evidence in any civil action.

(D) As used in this section:

(1) "Approved helmet" means a helmet that meets or exceeds the standards for protective bicycle helmets established by the American national standards institute, the American society for testing and materials, or the Snell memorial foundation.

(2) "Low-income family" means a family with an income not exceeding the federal poverty guidelines as defined in section 5101.46 of the Revised Code.

Section 2. Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, for the period of one year after the effective date of this act, no law enforcement officer shall issue a ticket, citation, or summons to a person who violates division (A) of section 4511.531 of the Revised Code. During that time, the law enforcement officer instead shall issue the person a written warning explaining the provisions of section 4511.531 of the Revised Code. The written warning may notify the person of the specific date, one year after the effective date of this act, when law enforcement officers shall begin enforcing the provisions of section 4511.531 of the Revised Code.

So... what do you think (he said, can opener firmly poised over can of worms)?

People, not speed.

5 comments:

  1. Mandatory helmet laws are a mixed bag, Jamie. There are arguments that they impose an extra burden on parents, and instead of buying a bike and helmet, they simply forego buying at all. So a kid who could be another adult cyclist never gets a bike in the first place.

    Some police officers are reluctant to enforce such laws, just as some are reluctant to stop cyclists for minor traffic offenses. In their case, I suspect it's a peer group thing.

    I strongly advocate that kids and adults use helmets, but they're not a substitute for bicycling education. A helmet is a very good thing to have in that instant before smacking into the ground, but we'd prefer to teach people how to avoid that in the first place.

    ...and I'm on vacation this week, so you an expect I'll: (1) go play with my bike, (2) spend too much time playing with this computer, and (3) drinking far too much coffee.

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  2. I agree, Ed. I feel the same way about this that I do about most "nanny-state" laws. The parents need to be the ones who take care of their kids in the long run. I do like that the funds from the fines go to paying for underprivileged kids' helmets... that was a nice touch that addresses the one issue you mention.

    Are helmets smart to wear? Absolutely. Should we be TOLD that we have to wear them? Absolutely not. Unlike seatbelt, smoking, and traffic laws, whether a cyclist wears a helmet has absolutely no bearing on anyone but that cyclist. If a cyclist gets into a situation where he'd need a helmet, that cyclist isn't endangering anyone but himself.

    I'll look forward to you spamming my comments regularly this week... have a great week off! ;)

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  3. I'll second that Ed W, a bicycle (or motorcycle) helmet has never prevented an accident. Basic skills particularly how to ride a bike and follow traffic laws dramatically improve the safety of all cyclists and reduce falls, ~45% of all accidents.

    A helmet's primary function is to reduce potential impact of a crash. Far, far to often people who espouse mandatory helmets laws confuse protection with prevention. A helmet has never prevented an accident, basic skills will. Basic skills are more important and compliment the benefits of a helmet. A helmet as a poor substitute for basic skills.

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  4. This will create another barrier to cycling, and result in more teenagers living a sedentary lifestyle. What's the greater risk to their health? Riding a bike without a helmet, or not riding a bike at all for life?

    Yes these laws lead to higher rates of helmet use, but probably lower rates of BICYCLE use.

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  5. Our anonymous poster hit it right on the head as well. People who want to cycle but are told they HAVE to wear a helmet will probably fall into two groups: those who see a helmet as just good common sense and will wear one anyway, and those who won't ride because they don't like anyone telling them what to do (and especially telling them that they have to spend money on something).

    My opinion is that helmet laws aren't so much for the cyclists as they are for everyone else. Instead of creating traffic codes and schema with a complete-streets mindset, they say "well, those cyclists should wear helmets so that they're not killed when we run into them."

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