WHEREAS, enactment of this legislation will help reduce many bike-related head injuries and deaths suffered by children; and
WHEREAS, each year in the United States, eight thousand children are killed and fifty thousand more are permanently disabled; and
WHEREAS, in 1990, an estimated three hundred eighty-three thousand, four hundred fifty-nine children were treated in emergency rooms for bike-related injuries; and
WHEREAS, seventy-five percent of all bike-related injuries include trauma to the head; and WHEREAS, this Act will help mitigate these injuries within the State of Delaware by requiring children to wear approved bicycle helmets; and
WHEREAS, a BIPED (Bicycle Injury Prevention Education, Delaware) program serving a minimum of eight thousand students each year has now been offered to the public for five years
BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE (Two-thirds of all members elected to each House thereof concurring therein):
Section 1. Amend Subchapter XII, Chapter 41, Title 21 of the Delaware Code by adding thereto a new section to read:
"§4198J. Helmet Requirements.
(a) A person under sixteen years of age shall not operate, ride upon, or ride as a passenger any bicycle, unless that person is wearing a properly fitted and fastened bicycle helmet which meets or exceeds the standard of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI Z90.4 bicycle helmet standard or subsequent standard) or the Snell Memorial Foundation's 1984 Standard (or subsequent standard) for Protective Headgear for Use in Bicycling. This requirement shall apply to a person who rides upon a bicycle while in a restraining seat which is attached to the bicycle or in a trailer towed by the bicycle.
(b) Any guardian who fails to cause his child to wear a bicycle helmet, as provided herein, shall be fined for the first offense twenty-five dollars, and for each subsequent offense, fifty dollars.
(c) The Court may dismiss all charges pursuant to this Section upon presentation of evidence that a violator hereof has purchased or obtained a bicycle helmet which meets or exceeds the standards set forth herein subsequent to the violation.
(d) The requirements of this Section shall apply at all times while a bicycle is being operated on any property open to the public or used by the public for pedestrian and vehicular purposes.
(e) Failure to wear a bicycle helmet as herein described shall not be considered evidence of either comparative or contributory negligence in any civil suit arising out of any accident in which a person under sixteen years of age is injured, nor shall failure to wear a bicycle helmet be admissible as evidence in the trial of any civil action."
Section 2. (1) The Delaware Bicycle Council, in cooperation with the Departments of Public Safety and Public Instruction and the Cooperative Extension Services of the University of Delaware and Delaware State University, shall sustain and improve the program of bicycle safety education offered to the public in each of the counties of the State.
(2) The State shall initiate a statewide bicycle helmet bank for those that cannot afford to purchase bicycle helmets to be in place by the date this Act becomes effective.
(3) This Act shall become effective April 1, 1996.