In the past year, stories about amusement park injuries and deaths have become unfortunately common. People throughout New York enjoy going to the fair for a fun and relaxing day. However, when safety regulations fail to keep people securely in their rides, amusement parks become a prison of unsafe property instead of a thrilling getaway.
Last Friday, another man’s life was claimed when he was ejected from a rollercoaster at a New York amusement park. The man was a local war hero who lost both his legs while he was serving in Iraq.
According to an article by Reuters, the rollercoaster is 208 feet tall, and it is one of the tallest rollercoasters east of the Mississippi River. At this point, investigators are still trying to determine what led to the man’s fatal fall.
One of the biggest outcomes of the accident is the realization that safety standards are not at an appropriate level. Currently, most fixed-site amusement parks are regulated by local and state authorities. However, because many smaller budgets are facing tight budgets and have few resources, there has been a push to have the safety regulations handled at a federal level.
One representative said that although the death of the army hero is still unknown, “one thing is crystal clear: Hypercoasters that hurtle riders at speeds exceeding 70 miles per hour along 200-foot drops should not be exempt from federal safety oversight.”
Those who oppose the regulation claim there is not any evidence that having federal oversight would improve the safety of the coasters. Statistically, the chance of being seriously injured at a fixed-site amusement park is 1 in 9 million. Conversely, from 2003 to 2009, nearly 700 individuals suffered serious injuries and required hospitalization for at least 24 hours.
Although it is not clear how or if federal regulations would help improve the safety of the rollercoasters, it is obvious that something needs to be done to improve the safety of fair-goers.
Source: Reuters, “Double amputee’s theme park death reignites regulatory fight,” Eric Johnson, 10 Jul 2011