- Roller coasters and other amusement park rides are largely safe when considering the number of deaths and serious injuries versus the high number of riders each year.
- No single regulatory body in the U.S. tracks amusement-park deaths nationwide. However, data from the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) suggests the odds of being seriously injured at a fixed-site amusement park are 1 in 24 million.
- Roller coasters undergo multiple layers of inspection before operation each day. These inspections typically involve mechanical, electrical, and operational checks.
- Certain factors, such as the rider’s height, weight, and underlying health conditions, can influence the risk associated with roller coaster rides.
- Adhering to ride requirements and warnings, such as height and weight restrictions, can help ensure rider safety.
- While major roller coaster accidents can draw significant attention, they are relatively rare. Common injuries reported are often less severe, such as motion sickness, back or neck pain, and minor head injuries.
A Look at Roller Coaster Safety
While roller coasters can often be associated with the idea of instability and risk due to their high speeds, heights, and force, they are remarkably safe when considering the number of riders versus the incidence of deaths or severe injuries.
The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA), using data from the National Safety Council, estimated that 1,415 injuries occurred from an estimated 1.7 billion amusement park rides in 2011. This means the odds of being seriously injured at a fixed-site amusement park are 1 in 24 million, if we trust these numbers. This data, however, does not cover all types of injuries or account for the risk factors unique to individual riders.
Regulations and Inspections
The safety of roller coasters is largely ensured by multiple layers of inspection carried out by the parks before any guest steps on board. These inspections typically involve mechanical, electrical, and operational checks. These guidelines are outlined by the attraction manufacturer, and most operators routinely conduct these inspections.
Risk Factors for Riders
The risk associated with roller coaster rides can be influenced by certain factors, including the rider’s height, weight, and underlying health conditions. For instance, a person’s size can influence how securely they are held in their seat, which could impact their safety during the ride.
It’s important for riders to adhere to ride requirements and warnings, which are usually determined by the ride’s manufacturer. These can be useful indicators of who should or shouldn’t get on a ride. Being aware of one’s health and any underlying issues can also inform a person’s decision about the potential risks of a roller coaster ride.
Injuries resulting from roller coaster rides are usually less severe than what might be imagined. According to a report by the Los Angeles Times, which tracked statistics from 2007 to 2012, the most commonly reported injuries were motion sickness, back or neck pain, and minor head injuries. These accounted for a significant portion of the 2,089 injury reports filed during that period.
Given the high number of roller coaster riders each year, the incidence of deaths or severe injuries is relatively low. However, it’s crucial for riders to understand potential risks and adhere to ride requirements and warnings. As with any recreational activity, there is a degree of risk involved. Yet, the thrill and enjoyment that roller coasters offer to millions of riders each year underscore the overall safety of these amusement park attractions.