Most people know what skateboarding is, but fewer people are aware of the skateboarding laws in their area or that they even exist.Both skateboarders and landowners should learn about the law not only to avoid potential harm or injury to themselves and others, but to avoid fines and other penalties.
People who ride skateboards do so for a variety of reasons, including for recreational purposes, as a mode of transportation, or as an "extreme sport" (think Tony Hawk and Ryan Scheckler).Because skateboarding is an inherently dangerous activity, laws exist to regulate, ban, or control skateboarding.
Skateboardings popularity has fluctuated over the past several decades.At one point, skateboarding was considered part of a counter-culture that was often associated with "skate punks", "reckless rebels", and other hard-core behavior stereotypes.Today, it is also a popular and wholesome activity that is enjoyed by many people and families, especially young boys and teenage males.Despite the varying views on skateboarding, it has remained an integral part of American culture.
Skateboarding Laws In General
Skateboarding laws are regulated by state and local ordinances, typically within a jurisdictions health & safety code or state traffic laws.They vary from state to state and town to town.Moreover, the laws affecting skateboarders are often grouped together with laws affecting bicyclist, roller bladders, and other pedestrians, although some laws may target skateboarders specifically, such as local ordinances that prohibit skateboarding in bike lanes or on sidewalks.
Skateboarding laws generally restrict or prohibit skateboarding as a recreational activity -- specifically the time, manner, age of person skateboarding, and location in which skateboarding may take place.One town may allow skateboarding during certain times of day (for example "from a half-hour after dawn to a half-hour before dusk"), while another town may limit skateboarding to certain areas (for example "on sidewalks in residential areas only").
In addition, some towns may only allow persons of a certain age (for example "over 12 years of age") to skateboard in public, while other towns may ban skateboarding altogether (for example, making it "off-limits on commercial property").
Finally, most states and jurisdictions require helmets and other safety gear to be worn at all times, in addition to a posted notice of such requirements in certain areas, such as in "skate parks" and other public places.
Landowner Liability Issues
The issue of landowner liability for injuries stemming from skateboarding is an important concern.Often, skateboarders who are injured on public or private property may hold a landowner liable for his or her damages or injuries from skateboarding.Under a "premises liability" theory, for example, a public or private landowner may be held liability for injuries that occur on his or her property, especially if the injuries were "foreseeable".This includes cases where a minor (or under-age person) was invited onto private property.
While some states have enacted specific laws arising out of "hazardous recreational activities", other states have included skateboarding within more general immunity laws or laws that aim to shield landowners from liability lawsuits arising from individuals engaging in a particular activity, such as skateboarding.
Skateboarding Dangers and Injuries What to Avoid
Skateboarding injuries account for thousands of physical injuries each year, mostly involving children.According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 25,000 persons are treated in hospital emergency rooms each year with skateboarding related injuries, and of those injuries nearly 6 out of ten involve children under the age of fifteen. Some of the most common types of injuries include: sprains, fractures (head, knee, and leg), contusions, abrasions, and even death (associated with car collisions or serious falls).
The CPSC lists several factors that lead to these increased injuries, such as lack of protective equipment, poor board maintenance, and irregular riding surfaces, to name a few.Additionally, the CPSC explains that people do not always have the necessary balance to prevent sudden injuries associated with impacts and falls.
To help consumers avoid skateboarding-related injury, the CPSC offers these following tips:
- Never ride in the street;
- Dont take chances;
- Only one person per skateboard;
- Never hitch a ride from a car, bus, truck or bicycle; and
- Always were protective safety gear, including helmets, knee and elbow pads that meet current U.S. safety standards.
For more information, view the CPSC Skateboarding Fact Sheet.
Penalties for Skateboarding Law Violations
Penalties for skateboarding violations include warnings, fines, and (in rare cases) arrest charges.The penalties depend on whether the charge is a first or repeat offense, and whether the violation is considered an infraction (most cases) or misdemeanor.
While skateboarding can be a fun, practical, and enjoyable activity, it is important to follow the safety measures outlined by the CPSC and to check the laws of your particular state, town, or city to avoid penalties that may occur as a result of the activity.