Legislation on football helmet safety is one step closer to crossing the goal line after passing the Senate nearly unanimously today. The bill, HB 675, has already passed the House and now moves to the governor for final approval.
Helmets are “the first line of defense” for football players, said Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville, the Senate sponsor of the bill. “We need to start somewhere and this is the first step in improving the safety for our athletes.”
The bill requires public school districts to recondition football helmets that are 10 years or older every two years and retire helmets after 16 years. School districts would also be required to keep records of the age and reconditioning of helmets. The information would be available to parents upon request.
There are currently no regulations on how often school districts must repair or purchase helmets, but Mark Cousins, interim director of the University Interscholastic League, has told lawmakers most school districts follow the recommendations by helmet manufacturers to recondition helmets every two years.
Lucio says the standards in the bill are consistent with recommendations from the helmet industry, which suggests purchasing new helmets at least every 16 years “because of how fast technology changes.”
Although it is estimated between 43,000 and 67,000 high school students nationally receive football-related concussions every year, opponents of the bill say the expense of record keeping and helmet reconditioning could be too high for some districts. New helmets can cost $150 to $300 each, and reconditioning usually costs $25 to $50 per used helmet.
Before voting on final passage, Lucio told the Senate floor, “It is my son’s bill, and I’m very proud of the work he’s done on this particular issue.”
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