Thursday, February 8, 2001
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Posted on: Thursday, February 8, 2001

Expanded helmet law considered

By Scott Ishikawa
Advertiser Capitol Bureau

With the recent popularity of scooters, the state Senate Transportation Committee has passed a bill that would require scooter and skateboard riders 16 years and under to wear a safety helmet.

The bill, passed by committee Tuesday, would amend a state law that requires bicyclists under 16 to wear a helmet. That law took effect at the beginning of the year.

The measure now faces a reading by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Honolulu Police Department, state Department of Health and state Department of Transportation testified yesterday in support of the bill.

In 2000, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates there were 40,500 emergency room-treated injuries associated with unpowered scooters. In September alone, there were about 8,600 injuries.

About 85 percent of the scooter-related injuries were to children under age 15, the commission said.

There were five U.S. scooter-related fatalities in 2000. Two victims died after falling off their scooters, and the other three riders were struck by vehicles. Although there were no scooter-related deaths in Hawaii last year, an 18-year-old Kauai skateboard rider died Friday of injuries sustained after he fell from his board.

Industry experts guess between 2 million and 5 million scooters were sold last year.

The measure would also prohibit scooter and skateboard riders from clinging to other vehicles. It would also authorize counties to regulate persons riding scooters and skateboards on streets and highways.

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