Amusement Park Rides: Summer Fun With Some Risk Of Injury

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This summer, millions of Americans are flocking to amusement parks, and more than 1,500 will likely leave with injuries.

Kasia Osiecka Kaszuba in class with Jake DeLucia, instructor.

In 2015, the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions reported from a survey from 154 parks that an estimated 1,508 people were injured, while 82 were seriously injured. From 2003 to 2015, the number of injuries fluctuated. The highest number of injuries were reported in 2003 at 1,954 injured, and the highest percentage of severe injuries out of all injured were reported in 2014 with 9.6 percent.

The actual chance of being severely hurt at one of these parks are 1 in 16 million, according to the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, making the chances of dying extremely rare. But to avoid injuries, safety experts say that people should follow guidelines that the parks establish and listen to what park employees say when it comes to safety.

Over the last 13 years, multiple deaths at amusement parks have been reported. In 2004, When contacted for an interview about safety, Jennifer McGrath, spokeswoman for Six Flags New England, said, “Here at the park we decline stories on safety, but there is a lot of industry information found online. If you would like to discuss our great ride product and offerings for our guests, I would be happy to do an interview.”

Many parks do not change their rides or are not forced to when an accident occurs, according to Safer Parks, an organization dedicated to making parts safer. Almost always, a severe injury or death ends with a settlement and the park doesn’t make any changes to the rides. Safer Parks says that only 35 states have to report severe injuries or death, 32 states have to shut down a ride that has an accident, and in 28 states, the government can investigate accidents.

Fixed-rides parks used to be overseen by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission up until 1981. From there on, states are in charge of any amusement parks with fixed-rides. Safer Parks says that only 20 states have comprehensive oversight. Twelve states have partial oversight, 8 states have private-sector oversight, 1 state has electoral inspections, and 9 states have no state agency with jurisdiction, Safer Parks reports.

But some other amusement parks may take precautions on their own. A recent accident at Six Flags Great Escape in Queensbury, New York, where a girl fell off a gondola, has caused Lake Compounce in Bristol, Connecticut to take action by shutting down a similar ride to avoid future accidents, the Hartford Courant reported.

Kasia Osiecka Kaszuba is a student at the Cooperative Arts & Humanities High School, New Haven.