It’s all on the head

LIHU‘E — A proposed bill that would make helmets mandatory for kids and limit liability in skateboard parks has quickly moved through the Legislature, passing first reading Friday and referred to three committees Tuesday.

House Bill 124 makes it illegal for children to ride a skateboard at a public skate park unless wearing a properly fitted and fastened skateboard helmet that meets certain national or international standards.

The law in its current form does not yet specify the age of compliance, as the bill still has to be worked on different committees. But the bill does make parents or legal guardians accountable.

“The parent or legal guardian having control or custody of an unemancipated minor whose conduct violates this section shall be liable for the amount of the fine imposed pursuant to this section,” states the proposed bill, which does not have a monetary amount for the fines yet.

As part of the bill, Counties would have to post signs at skate parks stating the helmet law.

HB 124 also takes liability for injuries away from public entities or public employees, unless an injury is caused by lack of proper maintenance of a facility.

Additionally, counties would have to keep a record of all injuries occurred in a skate park and all claims paid for injuries.

The bill was referred Tuesday to the House’s Transportation, Judiciary and Finance committees.

Another bill in the Legislature — HB 302 — also addresses skateboarding without a helmet.

But rather than punishment, this bill is about education.

“Head injuries, including but not limited to concussions and traumatic brain injuries sustained by children and adolescents, frequently occur in a variety of sports and recreational activities, including football, soccer, bicycling, and skateboarding,” states the proposed bill.

HB 302 amends Act 197, signed in 2012, to expand education on how to avoid head injuries to include all students — athletes or not — under 19 years old, in the private or public school system.

It also changes language in the act to replace the word “concussion” with “head injury.”

HB 302 was introduced Tuesday and passed first reading on the same day.

Skate parks safer

than streets

According to Skaters for Public Skateparks, a nonprofit that provides information on skate parks, there were 42 deaths related to skateboarding in the United States in 2012, one of which was in Hawai‘i. Kameron Steinhoff, 21, of Kane‘ohe, fell while “bombing,” or going downhill on a skateboard.

Only one of the fatalities happened at a skate park. And, according to SPS, 15-year-old Calvin Kelley, of Knoxville, Tenn., would still be alive today had he been wearing a helmet.

Twenty six of these deaths occurred while street skating, 13 while bombing, two while “skitching” (being towed by a vehicle), and one while skating “transition” (skating on a half-pipe, pool or bowl).

The majority of the deaths were minors. One 12-year-old child died and 26 13-to-18-year-old children died.

There were 13 19-to-24-year-olds and one 35-year-old who died. Only two were women.

A total of 30 deaths involved a vehicle in some manner, according to SPS.

“Communities across the nation are realizing the value of skate parks as a safe place, vehicle-free, where skateboarding is accepted as a healthy, positive recreational choice,” states SPS’s website.

Visit for more information.

Visit www.capitol.Hawai‘ to send testimony to these or any other bills at the Legislature.

• Léo Azambuja, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) or lazambuja@


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, send us an email.