Amusement Rides Knock Some Patrons for a Loop
Aug. 24, 2001 (Washington) -- Roller coasters and other
amusement rides put more than 10,000 thrill-seekers on the fast track to the
emergency room last year, according to a new report issued Thursday by The
Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
Ann Brown, commission chairwoman, said the number of injuries
at amusement parks actually fell in 2000, but the overall number of injuries
has increased significantly over the last five years.
The new report found that based on admissions to hospital
emergency rooms, children and teens were the most likely to be injured on
rides. In all, 6,590 people were hurt on amusement park rides last year, down
from 7,260 in 1999. And a total of 10,580 people were injured while visiting
mobile carnival rides, 200 more than in 1999.
"Amusement park rides are fun, fast and thrilling. They are
supposed to create the illusion of danger, without putting people at risk,"
Brown said. "But the increased number of deaths and injuries tell a
Carnival rides -- the small operations like you find at the
local mall -- fall under CPSC authority because they are considered interstate
commerce, said commission spokesman Ken Giles in a recent interview with
But the CPSC does not have jurisdiction over fixed-location
theme parks, even though that is where most deaths and injuries happen. Each
state sets its own regulations regarding its theme parks, but Alabama, Arizona,
Kansas, Mississippi, Montana, North and South Dakota, and Utah do not have
regulations or require inspections of rides.
Last year, Congressman Ed Markey (D-Mass.) proposed legislation
giving CPSC jurisdiction over the fixed rides -- yet as of the beginning of
August, the bill is still pending before the consumer protection subcommittee,
said Markey's spokesman, David Moulton.
Brown said she supports proposed legislation that would give
her agency jurisdiction over amusement park rides, a program that would cost at
least $5 million.
Two people died last year in incidents related to amusement
rides, the safety commission said. That's down from the six people who died in
such incidents in 1999.
But don't overlook those recent declines, say representatives
from the amusement industry, who contend that incidents are declining because
safety is at an all-time high.
"Amusement parks have a long history of providing safe,
family entertainment," Bret Lovejoy, told the Associated Press Thursday. He
is the president of the International Association of Amusement Parks and
Attractions. "There is virtually no safer form of recreation, and the 2000
figures further confirm that."
Lovejoy said more than 315 million people visited U.S.
amusement parks last year, accounting for 3.2 billion rides. According to the
association, the likelihood of being seriously injured on a ride is about 1 in
22 million and the chance of being fatally injured is 1 in 1.5 billion.