Austria has taken further steps to make the wearing of Ski Helmets compulsory for children under fifteen years old.
Upper Austria made it compulsory for children to wear ski helmets last season and now Lower Austria has followed up with a similar law. The Lower Austrian provincial parliament passed the new ruling into law this month.
A major driving force in this legislation’s introduction was the death of a woman last winter after she was hit on the ski slopes by the German politician Dieter Althaus. This was a major news story in Austria and was the catalyst that caused many to buy ski helmets voluntarily and some areas of the country to start drafting laws which would make it compulsory to wear one.
Another high-profile winter sports related death that would likely have been avoided by the use of a ski helmet was that of the actress Natasha Richardson in Canada. This received worldwide news coverage last year.
By all means not everybody is in favour of compulsory use of childrens ski helmets though. One Upper Austrian politician, the Green Party chairman (Rudi Anschober) said that most children already wear a helmet and that compulsion is simply not necessary.
Parents in Austria have been made legally responsible for ensuring that their child wears a protective helmet whilst skiing, but it is not clear what the punishment for not wearing one is goint to be.