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Monday, March 1, 1999



Hawaii State Seal

Proposal requires
safety helmets
for kids

A fine would be levied if
children skate or ride bikes
without helmets

By Craig Gima
Star-Bulletin

Tapa

Mark and B.J. Repollo say it's better to be safe. So their 3-year-old son, Derek, usually wears a safety helmet when riding his red tricycle in Kakaako Waterfront Park. The Repollos think a helmet law for children is a good idea.

"It's smart," Mark Repollo said. "Drivers these days are so reckless."

1999 Hawaii State Legislature The Senate Transportation Committee will hear a bill tomorrow to require children under age 12 to wear safety helmets while bicycling, using in-line skates, skateboarding or riding any type of wheeled apparatus. The penalty for violating the law would be a fine of up to $200 for a first conviction.

"My interest in all of this is for the safety of children," said Sen. Jan Buen (D, West Maui) who introduced the bill.

But Sen. Randy Iwase (D, Mililani) said the bill originally went too far. "You just cannot go around criminalizing parents," Iwase said.

"Even the best parents are not going to be able to be with their kids every second of every day," he said, suggesting that once children are out of their parents' sight, some will remove their helmets.

Iwase said he would support the bill if the fine were reduced. He also thinks the definition of a "wheeled apparatus" needs to be made clearer and the section that includes tricycles and toy bicycles in the definition should be removed.

At a hearing in the Transportation Committee earlier this month, the Hawaii Bicycling League, mountain bicyclists and the Department of Health supported the measure.

The Bicycling League cited statistics that show using bike helmets can reduce the number of brain injuries by 88 percent. The Department of Health testified that all bicycle riders should be required to wear helmets.

Buen said she introduced the bill at the request of a constituent whose daughter survived a serious bike accident because of a helmet.

"They felt they would like to save other children's lives," Buen said.



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