and traveling carnivals offer an exciting escape from
everyday life. They also offer mechanical hazards that can,
and do, hurt visitors. According to estimates by the U.S.
Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), more than 10,000
people were treated in hospital emergency rooms for
amusement ride-related injuries in 1999, an increase of 35%
The International Association of Amusement Parks and
Attractions (IAAPA) disputes those figures, and they've
hired themselves a statistician to explain away the
increase. What makes their quest a little awkward is that
the data they've set out to discredit is the very same data
that industry has been citing for years to prove how safe
their rides are. The IAAPA loved that data for 20 years,
until it showed a sharp increase in ride-related injuries on
permanent rides. Now, suddenly, the data is deeply flawed.
But only sometimes. Oddly enough, the press materials on the
IAAPA's website liberally reference figures from the CPSC
Nobody knows how safe amusement rides are in this country.
The best data we have comes from the CPSC, and industry
believes that data to be fatally flawed.
The IAAPA doesn't keep injury data on the parks it
No federal agency has authority to directly monitor the
safety of rides at permanent amusement parks.
Some parks and carnivals report injuries to state regulatory
agencies, but the reporting criteria varies from state to
state. For example, New Jersey requires that even minor
bumps and scrapes be reported, while Ohio lets parks keep
accident records confidential unless a rider dies or is
immediately admitted into a hospital.
Accident data for large theme parks is particularly
well-protected. Florida's theme parks, which account
for 20% of all U.S. amusement park business, are exempt from
state regulatory laws. Right now consumers have no way of
finding out how many guests have been seriously injured on
rides at parks such as Disney World and Universal Studios
A Better Question: Who is at Risk for Ride-Related
Amusement rides range widely in terms of size, speed,
height, g-forces, intensity, and intended audience. Riders
range widely in terms of age, height, weight, mental
ability, developmental maturity, and their ability to
understand mechanical cause-and-effect. The various
combinations and permutations of those factors contribute to
the excitement of thrill rides. They also combine to create
very real dangers for certain groups of people -- most
notably small children.
The Good News
Data gathered from states with strong regulatory programs
show that serious injuries are statistically rare in those
states. For example, Pennsylvania licensed 3221 amusement
rides and attractions in 1999, yet reported only 347
injuries requiring medical treatment.
Since parks and carnivals don't report injuries unless they
are regulated, it's impossible to tell whether Florida's
theme parks are as safe as those in Pennsylvania. In fact,
that's one of the biggest danger in allowing parks to police
their own accidents. The information doesn't get out to
consumers, and that means consumers can't make informed
decisions about which parks to visit and which rides are
safe for their families.
Should you require assistance with an Amusement Park Injury,
please contact us for an immediate free evaluation of your
situation. We have dealt with many of these cases and can be
an invaluable resource for information and more importantly
or call us today at (401) 788-0600 to speak with
someone from our firm..