A common question asked by many roller blade aficionados is—do I need to wear a helmet when roller blading?
The answer is certainly yes. It is vitally important that anyone partaking in rollerblading should wear a helmet. But it is important to know that it is not illegal to roller skate without one in public spaces. However, many sporting events and skateparks have their own rules and therefore you must always check with the event organisers beforehand.
What the law says about wearing a helmet when inline skating
There is a huge grey area surrounding wheeled transport on public roads. For instance, the rising prominence of motorised scooters demonstrates the problem well. They are not allowed to be used on public footpaths but are forced to use the roads. However, they are not classed as vehicles and therefore the usual road safety rules do not apply.
Rollerblading is similar. Skaters can pick up incredible speed especially when hurtling down the hill which poses a great danger to themselves and others. So, it is always recommended that head protection is worn when rollerblading.
It is difficult to find any laws pertaining to skating sports and the requirement to wear helmets, but conclusions can be drawn from the laws surrounding other modes of transport such as cycling. The requirement to wear bicycle helmets in the US varies from state to state and by the age of the rider. 21 states have state-wide mandatory helmet laws for children. However, 13 have no laws at all.
The decision to wear or not wear a helmet is clearly something to be taken very seriously.
Do I need to wear a helmet indoors or at a skatepark?
While wearing a helmet in public spaces is optional, some skateparks do enforce the use of helmets. They have a duty of care to their customers and helmets are considered necessary to avoid injuries and the likely threat of lawsuits. However, according to the Tony Hawk Foundation and the Public Skatepark Development Guide only a third of all US skateparks make helmets mandatory.
It is interesting to point out here that California has issued a state-wide ruling that helmets shall be worn inside skateparks, but they do not enforce the same rule in public spaces. In other words, it is legal to skate helmet-free OUTSIDE but to do the same INSIDE the skatepark would be illegal.
Do professional inline skaters wear helmets?
Not all professionals wear a helmet all of the time. However, many pro athletes advocate the use of helmets as many of them have either had head injuries themselves or witnessed someone else who has.
KING 5 Media Group is the largest media company in the Pacific Northwest, and they did a recent interview with pro-skater Andy Anderson on YouTube. Anderson wishes everyone would wear a helmet. People think it looks cool and of course, it is more comfortable, but head injuries can be fatal, and the risks are very real. Skateboardsafety.org reports that 147 skateboarders died on the road between 2011 and 2015. Although the causes were not made clear in the article it is obvious that skating can be a dangerous sport and it is always better to wear a helmet if you have one.
Do I need to wear a helmet in roller skating competitions?
Most competitive sports which are organised and governed, make the wearing of helmets a mandatory requirement. For example, inline hockey organised by World Skate (the governing body for skateboarding and roller sports, officially recognised by the International Olympic Committee) state that helmets are mandatory for everyone under 19 years of age.
Again, many organised events still do not enforce helmet rules, but it is still usually recommended to wear a helmet. However, in many competitions, adults may have the freedom of choice.
Common injuries when inline skating
According to an analysis of roller skating injuries by pubmed.gov wrist injuries make up a large amount of the injuries associated with the sport. Another study of skating injury in children cited in AAP News and Journals Gateway suggests the most common mechanism of injury was a fall (83.1%). Ice skaters sustained a greater proportion of head injuries (13.3%), compared with roller skaters (4.4%) and in-line skaters (5.0%).
Why do people not wear helmets when inline skating?
Most people choose not to wear a helmet because they are inconvenient. After all, it is just another piece of equipment that needs to be carried. They can also be uncomfortable to wear in hot weather. Also, many people feel disoriented when wearing a helmet especially if they have practised for years without one. However, the most popular and common reason must be that social convention dictates that helmets are not cool.
Regardless of the reason why not to wear a helmet, it is surely undebatable that wearing one is the safer option and therefore to encourage the adoption of helmets it is necessary to choose a model that is lightweight, has great ventilation and does not obscure the vision. A brand that provides helmets that tick all of those boxes is Triple 8. Their helmets also look fantastic.
Here is one of the most popular Triple 8 models sold on Amazon.