Dr. Dan Gregorie of San Francisco is campaigning for increased safety rules at California ski resorts, doing so for the most personal of reasons. In 2006 his 24-year old daughter Jessica was killed in a snowboarding accident.
"The ski resort was well aware of the hazards that led to my daughter's death," said Gregorie. "Had there been basic safety measures in place, such as signs warning of the known dangers, Jessica's life might have been saved."
Recognizing the lack of information on snow sport deaths and injuries, as well as the absence of consistent safety standards and practices at resorts, Gregorie founded the California Ski and Snowboard Safety Organization in November 2007.
Assembly member Dave Jones (D-Sacramento) subsequently held hearings on snow sport safety as chair of the Assembly Judiciary Committee. As a result of the information gathered from the hearings, Jones this week introduced AB 1652, a comprehensive measure that contains information reporting requirements and safety measures that he hopes will result in a safer snow sport environment for all.
"I understand individuals should have basic responsibilities for their own safety," Gregorie said. "However, the resorts also should be responsible for identifying and mitigating known hazards and providing timely information that allows consumers to make informed decisions about their safety at each resort."
Specifically, AB 1652 will require California ski resorts to:
Require each employee to wear a ski helmet.
Adopt and enforce mandatory helmet use for all patrons age 18 years and younger.
Prepare and post annual safety plans for public access.
Provide accessible information regarding deaths and injuries, including the what, where, when, why and how of each incident.
Establish standardized signage for ski-area boundaries and hazard warnings.
Provide standardized safety padding for use at lift towers and other fixed obstacles.
Currently, California ski resorts are not required to publicly release injury and fatality information or provide uniform signage to alert patrons to known hazards. As a result, Gregorie says there is no resort accountability and no accurate or reliable data to objectively guide the public on snow sport risks and safety.
AB 1652 calls for practical safety precautions and provides for information to be available to consumers to make good decisions relative to their personal safety.
"I am hopeful AB 1652 will be passed and signed into law to improve safety for California skiers and snowboarders," Gregorie said. "This legislation will help to significantly reduce the number of deaths and injuries."