On July 31, New York governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill requiring children under age 18 to wear a helmet when riding a horse. Since 2000, the state has had a law on the books requiring approved equestrian helmets for riders under age 14, but with the passage of S.2007, the law has been updated to become the country’s most far-reaching helmet law.
The bill also amends the state’s general business law to require horse providers (such as trail ride operators or riding instructors who use school horses) to provide helmets to riders under age 18 at no cost above the standard rental fee.
The text of the bill offers extensive justification for the law:
Horseback riding is a popular recreational activity enjoyed by more than 30 million people in the United States. It has been estimated that 19 million people aged 16 years and older participating in riding activities. Horseback riding is the eighth leading case of emergency room treated, sports and recreation related injuries. Horseback riding has been identified as a higher-risk activity than automobile racing, motorcycle riding, football and skiing. Injuries occur while riding or handling horses without discrimination for age or experience level. Approximately 70,000 people are treated in emergency rooms annually because of equestrian-related injuries, while thousands more are treated in physicians’ offices. Head injuries account for approximately 60% of deaths resulting from equestrian accidents.
Wearing a helmet can significantly reduce chances of sustaining serious injury. One of the most important pieces of safety equipment is a properly fitting helmet in order to absorb the impact to the head, provide cushioning to the skull and reduce jarring of the brain against the skull. The New England Journal of Medicine has reported that wearing helmets reduces head and brain injuries by 85% and the Equestrian Medical Safety Association strongly recommends the wearing of a properly fitted ASTM/SEI certified equestrian helmet with the harness secured during equestrian activities.
While New York State was one of the first states to adopt a helmet law protecting children, the current law does not adequately protect all children. Currently, only children fourteen years of age and under are required to wear a helmet. Changing the age to eighteen years of age would further protect our children, prevent serious injuries and help save lives