Winter 2001, p.7

Misguided Mandate for Kids on Scooters

As with many new trends, "Razor" scooters have attracted the attention of politicians. The City Council's Committee on Health approved Intro 818, which requires scooter riders 14 and under to wear helmets. T.A. testified against the bill. T.A. is concerned that mandating helmets for kids on scooters stigmatizes yet another healthy, physical childhood activity. When parents discover that they must equip their child with a helmet, they are sent the message that their child is engaging in a dangerous activity. Suddenly, staying inside and on the couch seems like the better, safer option. City Council justifies the bill by citing a dramatic increase in the number of scooter-related injuries. Not surprising, since statistics have only been gathered since the explosion in scooter mania. Regardless, injury statistics show that injuries were common to the hands and wrists, not the head. Protecting a child's head is important, but a bill conceived in the name of preventing injuries should address real problems. This bill is a prime example of bad public policy because it is based on irrational fear, rather than facts and concern for the public good.

Education and promotion have proved much more effective at convincing people to voluntarily wear bicycle helmets. The same will be true for scooters. T.A. strongly encourages using helmets, but requiring and encouraging are very different.

T.A. urged the committee on health to better serve young scooter riders by encouraging, not requiring helmet use. Taking advantage of the Slow Speed Legislation to create slow speed zones in front of schools, parks, and preschools would also increase children's safety.