Community Board: Solutions for Hollister’s helmet problem

A skater does a trick at the local skate park in 2014.

There are three crucial components to solve Hollister’s serious safety problem with lacking helmet use by minors on skateboards, bicycles and scooters.
For one, Hollister police must do more to enforce the law, which is clear about helmets and very clearly violated on a regular basis throughout the city.  Additionally, parents must do a better job of being parents and ensure their children understand the magnitude of the potential circumstances when not wearing helmets. Kids almost always feel invincible, and it’s up to parents to show them the reality. And local government agencies, along with schools, have to step up their game and do more to educate young people about the importance of wearing a helmet and putting safety ahead of fashion.
Although the helmet problem has been quite evident for some time in Hollister, the death of Joshua Rodriguez, 11, underscored the severity. Nobody wants to lose loved ones for unnecessary reasons like the bus accident that claimed the life of Joshua. Whether he wore a helmet—Hollister police hadn’t released such details yet—shouldn’t matter. Young people continue to ride around Hollister without wearing these proven lifesavers.
Here are some areas where government and nonprofit officials can start:
Hollister police used to be more diligent with helmet violations, but enforcement has been nonexistent in recent years. Police must reverse that trend. When they see helmet-less children riding around town, they have to either warn them the first time or fine them.
Parents, at the same time, need to do a better job in this area. While we can scoff at the riders all day because it’s easy to scoff at young people, it is ultimately parents’ responsibility to ensure their children not only understand the necessity of wearing a helmet—no helmet, no exit should be an absolutely routine mantra in any household—but also make sure they actually wear them.
It isn’t too much of an affordability issue, because helmets are relatively cheap, but there are giveaways and subsidies that families can take advantage of locally, including a Safe Kids Coalition handout last spring at local schools. Still, the tragedy with Joshua’s death is a sign that the Safe Kids group and others like it should consider doing even more to get the word out on helmet safety or provide the actual helmets.
As for the most important solution, enforcement, it could start at a prominent site such as the Wednesday Downtown Certified Farmers Market, which has become a popular hangout for pre-teens and teens. Even in recent weeks, young people have been riding carelessly through the market grounds without helmets and without consequences.
It has to start with enforcement because without it, rebellious youth won’t bother to listen. Though it’s impossible to ensure every last parent is doing the right thing, families must take a more proactive role in keeping a close watch on children while also helping to keep the broader community safe.

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