Natasha Richardson’s crippling accident while taking beginner's lessons has renewed the ski-helmet debate, the New York Times reports. Safety gear is more popular today—43% of Americans donned helmets last ski season, up from 25% 5 years prior—but still not required. Critics point out that fatalities haven’t decreased despite the precaution, and they worry that perceived security could encourage more reckless behavior.
“Typically, in the scenario that results in death, you need something more than a helmet to save you,” says a professor who tracks ski deaths. Sales boomed recently in Europe after the much-publicized case of a helmet-less woman died following an on-slope collision with a German politician, the Times notes.