Measure is Named After 10-Year Old Elizabeth Boy Who Succumbed to Brain Injuries
An Assembly panel has approved “Andy’s Law,” a public safety measure sponsored by Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle that is designed to protect children from traumatic or potentially fatal brain injuries.
The bill (A-3676), which was advanced by the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee, requires children under 17 years old to wear an approved helmet when riding a scooter.
“Much the same way our bicycle helmet law has helped prevent countless injuries and fatalities, we hope this legislation will do the same,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “Wearing a helmet can keep an accident from turning into a life-altering tragedy.”
The legislation is named in memory of Andy Alexis Pino, a 10-year old boy from Elizabeth who was struck and killed by a car as he was crossing a busy street near his home while riding his scooter. The child, who was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident, died from severe head trauma.
To prevent such tragedies in the future, this bill would require children younger than 17 years of age to wear helmets when they ride their scooters. Children under 17 years old currently are required to wear a helmet when riding a bicycle and when skateboarding or roller skating.
Under the bill’s provisions, a fine of up to $25 for a first offense up to $100 for a subsequent offense could be imposed on the parent or guardian of a child who fails to wear the required helmet. The fines are to be deposited into the “Bicycle, Skating and Scooter Safety Fund” to be used by the Director of Consumer Affairs for educational programs concerning bicycle, roller skating, skateboarding and scooter safety.
“I hope we can honor Andy’s legacy by saving the lives of other children through this legislation,” added Vainieri Huttle.
The bill also requires scooter manufacturers to include a warning notice with the scooter that the risk of serious injury can be reduced by using a scooter only while wearing helmets, wrist guards elbow pads and knee pads. A manufacturer who complies with the warning requirements of the bill could not be held liable in a civil action for damages or physical injury by a scooter rider who was not wearing the required helmet when injured.
Manufacturers of bicycles, roller skates and skateboards are required by current law to provide this warning. Businesses which sell or rent scooters are required by the bill to post a sign meeting certain specifications where the sale or transaction takes place stating that children under 17 are required under State law to wear a helmet when riding a scooter. Failure to post the appropriate sign would result in a fine up to $25 for each day the business is open without the sign posted.
Businesses that rent scooters also are required to provide a helmet to renters who do not have one, but may charge a fee for the service. Businesses that comply with these requirements could not be held liable in a civil action for damages or physical injury by a scooter rider who did not wear a helmet. Businesses that sell or rent bicycles, roller skates and skateboards are currently subject to these requirements.
The bill also authorizes municipalities to regulate scooters on property under the municipality’s jurisdiction.