Dangerous Rides: Thrills and Spills at Amusement Parks
Home to some of the most well-known theme parks in the world, Florida is a popular vacation destination for families who take advantage of the state’s warm weather and many attractions. However, according to the Orlando Sentinel, during the third quarter of 2014, a dozen people reported serious health problems or injuries on Disney World rides and two more incidents were reported at Universal Orlando and SeaWorld.
These statistics are all the more troubling because under Florida law, these theme parks are exempt from state oversight and many important safety regulations as long as they report injuries that occur on a ride that results in hospital stays of more than 24 hours. Nevertheless, these reports often do not include a full picture of the dangers and consequences that result from ride injuries.
Theme Parks: An Under-Regulated Industry
According to the latest statistics from the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA), in 2011, around 300 million people visited the nearly 400 amusement parks in the United States and took more than 1.7 billion rides. Further, the association noted that the chance of being seriously injured at a park was about one in 24 million.
While industry officials claim that the risks of being hurt at a theme park is lower than being injured in a car accident, the reality is that it is nearly impossible to determine the true safety of rides as there is no federal agency that has enforcement power over the parks or is responsible for collecting data. Like the attractions in Florida, many parks self-report injuries, potentially leading to a skewed public perception.
In a recent study conducted by the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Columbus, Ohio’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital, researchers looked at injuries to children that resulted from amusement rides, including ones found at local malls or restaurants. They found that from 1990 to 2010, 92,885 children under the age of 18 were treated in United States emergency departments for ride-related injuries and that more than 70 percent of these injuries occurred in the warmer months between May and September, coinciding with summer break.
Thus, on average, injuries resulting from amusement parks resulted in more than 20 emergency room visits each day during the summer months. Injuries were most commonly the result of a fall or by hitting a body part on a ride. Moreover, the injuries that resulted occurred mostly in the head and neck region followed by the arms, face, and legs.
Amusement Park Safety Tips
There are steps that parents can take to prevent children from inadvertently suffering an injury while enjoying amusement park rides. These include:
- Always following the listed age, height, weight, and health restrictions posted with each ride.
- Always use safety equipment such as seat belts, safety bars, and other restraints.
- Always keep hands and feet inside the ride at all times.
- Remain seated until a ride comes to a complete stop and you are instructed to exit.
- If you witness any unsafe behavior or malfunctioning equipment while on a ride, report it immediately to a park employee.
If you or your child has suffered an injury as a result of amusement park negligence, let the experience and expertise of The Pittman Firm help you obtain appropriate compensation. Call us today for a free consultation on your case.