How And Why Do Amusement Park Accidents Happen – And How Can You Stay Safe?
Amusement park rides hurl us far into the air, at speeds that can eclipse the speeds in our cars. And yet, we give little thought about how they are maintained. We would never go for months or years without maintaining our car. But sadly, that’s often what happens in amusement park rides.
Ferris Wheel Accident
Just a few years ago a ferris wheel in a Tennessee county fair malfunctioned, causing three girls to fall from the wheel. Inspectors found that the accident was a result of a mechanical problem with the wheel. The riders, all teenagers, suffered everything from broken bones to severe traumatic brain injuries.
Witnesses say that the cart holding the girls seemed to get caught on something, and then spilled over; the witness equated the girls fall to water falling out of a glass. Incredibly, while this was happening, the ride kept going, and only stopped when observers screamed at park operators to stop the ride.
Who is Watching Over Us?
When it comes to ride safety, you may be wondering who is watching or monitoring these amusement parks, to ensure that they are safe. The answer is not many people. The federal government does regulate rides that are mobile (that is, traveling, temporary fairs and carnivals). It does not, however, regulate fixed parks, like Dollywood.
Amusement parks do have to make sure that inspectors are qualified, and that they follow nationwide standards. Operators of amusement park rides must be at least 16 years old (a low standard). The law does specifically give permission to those who are injured in amusement park accidents, to sue.
But inspections don’t always mean safety. A young girl was scalped on a ride in Nebraska, when her hair became stuck in the mechanisms of a ride. That ride had passed a state inspection just a few months before the accident.
Are they That Dangerous?
How dangerous are amusement park rides? Well, that may be hard to determine, as there is no one clearinghouse for amusement park rides, and many of the permanent more established parks are quite hesitant to disclose accident figures.
One study showed that your chances of injury are low—one in 24 million. Of course, that study was done by an Association of Amusement Park Rides and Attractions, so it’s hardly a neutral source.
Experts suggest that riders avoid wearing loose clothing, or hair that can get caught, when on rides. Jewelry should also be removed. Riders should also take heed of height and weight restrictions-they’re there for a reason, even though it may be discouraging if you cannot ride.
Needless to say, make sure you are belted or strapped into rides securely, get help if you are not, and don’t do things like stand up during the ride, which could put you in danger.
Call the Knoxville amusement park accident lawyers at Fox Farley Willis & Burnette, PLLC, today to see if an amusement park was negligent in your accident case.