State legislature ponders helmet law

By Casey Peacock: PNT Staff Writer

A bill requiring children under 17 years old to wear a protective helmet while using a bicycle, scooter, skateboard or skates in a public area is headed to the state Senate for vote.

It was passed unanimously Monday by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Bicycling injuries have been cited as the leading cause of emergency room visits for children and adolescents involved in recreational sports, according to a press release issued by the New Mexico Department of Health.

In Portales, the city-owned skate park does not require helmet use.
Many of the younger skaters who visit the park with their parents generally wear their helmets, Portales Recreation Center director Johnny Ledbetter said. Older kids who visit the park typically do not wear helmets, he said.

“Right now, we haven’t had any serious injuries that we know of,” Ledbetter said.
Signs at skate parks in Portales and Clovis that list the rules and regulations recommend the use of helmets and other safety equipment, according to Ledbetter and Clovis city manager Joe Thomas.

“We specifically do not require safety gear,” Thomas said.

Liability reasons factored into the decision to post signs recommending helmet use at the city’s lone skate park at Greene Acres Park, Thomas said.

The only skate park in the state that requires the use of helmets was found to be in Hobbs, Ledbetter said.

Both city officials agreed if the bill does pass, they would do what was necessary to enforce the law.

“If anything is passed, we will certainly enforce it. I think it would cut down on injuries,” Ledbetter said.