Excerpt of an article by ZOË SCHLANGER | Newsweek
Sledding is dangerous. Each winter, snow-suited children of all ages careen down icy hills on slabs of unsteerable plastic designed specifically to reduce friction—or, in other words, to go as fast as gravitationally possible. Some of them hit trees or fences, or simply land with a brutal thud after taking momentary flight in a city park.
Cities across the country have had enough. Among them is Dubuque, Iowa, whose City Council is moving this year to ban sledding in 48 of its 50 municipal parks, The Associated Press reports. The council cited two recent major lawsuits that cost other municipalities big money: a $2 million judgment against Omaha, Nebraska, after a 5-year-old girl who hit a tree while sledding became paralyzed, and a $2.75 million payment in Sioux City, Iowa, when a man sledded into a sign and suffered a spinal cord injury.
According to a study by the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, sledding-related injuries send over 20,000 children to the hospital each year, of whom 9 percent suffer traumatic brain injury.
It is unlikely anyone will be arrested for illegally sledding. In almost all cases, when it comes to recreational rules, “we just ask people to stop doing it, and typically, that’s what people do. If a person becomes a repeat offender, if they are uncooperative, they could get a municipal infraction, like a fine.
If Dubuque follows through with the ban, it will join a growing list of North American cities that have eliminated certain sledding hills, or posted signs exempting them from liability for injured sledders, over the past few years, such as Des Moines, Iowa; Montville, New Jersey; Lincoln, Nebraska; and Columbia City, Indiana.
Creating laws, ordinances, or rules that are not enforced is a waste of taxpayer money. The fact that municipalities were sued and lost does not imply we should create more laws, it implies we should fix the legal system that awards money to people who get injured when they engage in risky behavior. Where does the insanity stop? Perhaps, we will see new signs around bridges, fire pits, and even trees in the near future warning us that jumping from a bridge may cause injury, sitting in the flame of a fire pit may result in injury or death, and walking under a tree may be dangerous when a limb breaks. Maybe we need signs to alleviate the responsibility of municipalities when people slip on a wet leaf.
Thanks to Associated Press for sharing the story; ZOË SCHLANGER for writing the article; Newsweek for committing its resources to publishing the article; Google for helping me find the article; and all the people who, directly or indirectly, made it possible for me to include the picture, video, and text in this post.