Doctors warn of thrill ride dangers

Posted | Contributed by supermandl

Researchers in Minnesota are worried about the "trend" of higher injury rates on thrill rides, citing the report of the Consumer Product Safety Commission. They also say that the effects of such rides on the human body are unclear.

Read more from Reuters Health via Yahoo.

[Ed. note: Read our editorial on the CPSC report in the editorial section. -J]

beast7369's avatar
And we have been riding these kinds of thrill rides for about a century (unless you include the Ice Slides from Russia) and they are just now thinking this is harmful.  RIGHT!?!  Besides as we all know the data that they are using is flawed.

See Lying With Statistics editorial to understand what I am talking about.

Now open Zero-G Thrills, an all new Coaster and Amusement Park Photos site

Who's statistics should we use. I find the IAAPA #'s to be flawed also heres why. First they include all the rides givin for the year in the US including CA and FL, however they dont include them 2 states when it comes to injuries because they cant come up with those #'s, Ca just passed a law last year making them to report all accident's in park's. That's why in the last year we have seen so many in CA before last year they did not have to report to anyone's accidents in park's, and FL still does not report there stat's.  How does IAAPA come up with injury reports when they do not report them in FL one of the largest amount of rides given in a single year and CA just starting to report them. Both reports(IAAPA and the report mentioned in the article) are BS and should have an independent report.

Army Rangers lead the way

Mamoosh's avatar
Perhaps someone should do a study on the injury rate amoung enthusiasts?  We ride much more than the average person and I hardly ever hear of one of us getting hurt.
I think that its been said enough times here that most to all amusement park accidents occur due to the rider doing something he or she shouldn't be doing.  yeah, there are the freak accidents where a lap bar comes flying up and someone gets ejected, but how many times a year does that happen and how many times does leave the lap bar too high.  most accidents occur because of human error (from which there is no escape) so until people smart up its pointless to debate that.

as for the g forces, its also been mentioned time and time again that the duration of the g forces is minimal.  the duration of the entire ride is about 2 minutes and that includes sitting in the staion, on the lift, and in the brakes.  the actual time on a ride and, more importantly, the time spent doing manuevers that the body doesn't experience every day is minimal whereas those NASA astronauts experience 0-g's for weeks on end and they take several minutes of high g forces to escape the Earth's gravity.

if short periods of high g forces and sudden directional changes were such a problem then they'd probably show up on airplanes, fighter jets, astronauts, in cars, on trains, or anything else that accelarates to changes direction before on a coaster.

aside from freak accidents, human error, and just poor designing, roller coasters are some of the safest things you can be on.

Knott's Berry Farm Cuba ~South Park

Until they do something about our highways they can take their figures and stick them up their asphault.  Compared to highway deaths, there are virtually no deaths at America's theme parks.

If they are really worried about our safety they won't sell the Ford Excursion and the Ford Probe in the same hemisphere.


It is absolutely false that most serious amusement ride accidents are caused by rider misbehaviour.  If you look at the actual data, you will see that only 25-30% of the accidents are caused by rider misbehaviour.  The largest cause is mechanical failure with operator error and design issues also major causes.

Accidents also don't just happen as freak things.  Each accident has a cause.  When a lap bar pops up, it is because of a problem in design, maintenance or use.  Looking at accidents this way and finding causes so that future accidents can be prevented is why the amusement industry has been able to achieve such an excellent safety record.

wahoo skipper:

You are 10-20 times as likely to be killed in an accident on your drive to an amusement park as you are to be killed in an accident on a ride. You are also more likely to die of a heart attack while you are in the park than you are to be killed in a ride accident. *** This post was edited by Jim Fisher on 1/10/2002. ***

I was intrigued to read in the article that 18 U.S. rollercoasters place upon their riders g-forces greater than that felt by astronauts upon liftoff. 

I have blacked-out on two rollercoasters (Alpengeist and Apollo's Chariot at BGW), and both occurances happened in direct relation to the g-forces I felt.  That is, I saw everything get darker and darker as the force increased, and then things got back to normal as the force decreased.  It happened gradually but all in a matter of seconds in both scenarios. 

I am curious to know if anyone else has ever had a similar experience, and does anyone know the danger or consequences of this. 

For the record I am a 28 year old theme-park enthusiast and I have ridden lots of rollercoasters in a variety of sizes in my life, and these are the only two problems I have experienced.  I blacked out on Apollo's Chariot somewhere around the midpoint turn-around.  I don't remember enough about the layout of Alpengeist to say during what element this happened, but I think it was a vertical loop at the bottom of the first drop (does that sound right?).  These occurrances were on separate visits, so don't anyone say I was just feeling weak or dehydrated or something.

Again, I'd appreciate others' experiences or stories.  Needless to say I think the concerns expressed in the article, especially those surrounding the maximum g-forces that our bodies can tolerate, should be taken with a little more seriousness than some may be giving them. 

Jeff's avatar
Interesting... I didn't find the BGW rides particularly forceful (especially not Alpengeist). I get the usual gray-out pulling out of the first hill on Millennium Force. I got a little of that climbing the helix on Nitro as well. That's all I can think of.

To say you "blacked out" means you lost consciousness, and it doesn't sound like that happened.

The statement that newer, faster, taller rides produce more G's is incorrect. I've said it before... the kids who do the little physics experiments at Cedar Point show every year that the relatively old and small Wildcat pulls more G's than Millennium Force. Heck, put yourself on any old Schwarzkopf ride and I can assure you they pull harder G's.

Jeff - Webmaster/Admin -,
"As far as I can tell it doesn't matter who you are. If you can believe, there's something worth fighting for..." - Garbage, "Parade"

The product safety commission states (and this is an exact quote) that your actually safer riding on a rollercoaster then you are driving to an amusement park, its safer then playing billiards, safer then using toothpicks and safer then any other form of transportation.

G-Forces on a Coaster
At Rest:         1G (Simple Gravity)
On Curves:    5G's
On UpHills:  -3G's

Astronauts experience extremly high GForces for a matter of minutes, while rollercoaster riders only experience these GForces for a matter of seconds.

The actual GForce that a person feels has alot of different parameters that are considered in the design of the coaster. Its not only the magnitude of the GForce, but also how quickly the GForce is applied to your body called the onset of the GForce.

Safety experts have conducted numerous test to ensure that riders are being delievered the safest experience possible.

Planet Xtreme -
Planet Xtreme Forums -

My opinion on this subject is this:

If you don't think the coasters are safe, then don't ride them.  It is that simple.  Just don't try to tell everyone else what to do and what not to do.  I mean, yeah, sometimes there are going to be freak accidents.  Looking at the odds though, I'll take my chances.  ;)

Olsor's avatar
I've experienced tunnel vision before the second loop on Shock Wave at SFGAm, and the helix after the second loop on Batman, also at SFGAm.  Once I learned where those instances of high G Forces were, I would either try to sit towards the back of the train, or contract my upper body muscles, to keep blood flowing in the upper half of my body.  Works like a charm.  I did the same on my first ride on Goliath last year, and I had no problems.  I could feel the forces, for sure, but no tunnel vision.

It goes without saying that safety is a concern for everyone in the amusement park business, and, of course, enthusiasts.  What I think irritates the enthusiast community every time we see these "studies" is the notion that somehow the newer and bigger rides are more unsafe because there are, according to these studies' statistics, more injuries now than a decade ago.  But the studies obviously neglect important information (the huge amount of rides added to amusement parks in just the last five years alone, for instance) and draw improper correlations.

Yes, there are rides out there that can cause injury.  But these studies and folks like Ed Markey would have you believe they are the rule, rather than the exception.  I think most of the people that visit this website know better.

Jim, you are preaching to the choir.  More people get medical treatment as a result of their computer keyboard than those treated for amusement park accidents.

This is a completely political issue much like motorcycles and helmets.  A moron would realize that a helmet would protect lives for a motorcycle rider but here in the ridiculous state of Florida, they actually lifted the ban on helmet-less riders b/c of political pressure.  You might say that the only victims are those that fall and break open their head but we all pay higher insurance premiums b/c of this.

It all comes around though....One of the greatest proponents of lifting the ban was killed in a motorcycle accident within two weeks of the legislation.  No helmet!

Jeff, thanks for the correction.  Blacking out probably was not the right term.  What I experienced on those two rides was a sense of progressive darkening of my vision to the point where everything looked nearly black or dark and then a similar return to normal vision all in a matter of a few seconds during the strengthening and weakening of the g-force. 

I will continue riding coasters.  I'm just trying to express a bit of reasonable concern. 

The statement that newer, faster, taller rides produce more G's is incorrect. I've said it before... the kids who do the little physics experiments at Cedar Point show every year that the relatively old and small Wildcat pulls more G's than Millennium Force. Heck, put yourself on any old Schwarzkopf ride and I can assure you they pull harder G's.----Originally posted by Jeff

LOL.  I was one of those kids just last summer.  It was pretty fun and I would highly recommend it to any coaster enthusiast from in the sixth to the eighth grades.  It is provided by BGSU and it is known as HELIX: Riding the Edge. Back to the subject though, roller coasters aren't perfect.  People WILL get hurt, maybe even killed from/while riding them.  Its' like driving a car.  Every time you turn the ignition, you taking a chance with your life. I do think there should be more regulations on them ( NOT Ed Markey regulations though! )  and that accidents should be reported, but it will take time. 

One more thing: The editors of this article should specify that the G forces felt by astronauts are applied for MUCH longer peroids of time than on roller coasters. When they don't, it provides false information that the general public might not know otherwise.

Intelligence is a God given gift: Know how to use it. *** This post was edited by CoasterKrazy on 1/10/2002. ***

Jeff's avatar
Beyond the issue of any real or perceived danger is the issue of whether or not we need someone to protect us. I think I speak for the majority when I say the answer is "no." If the amusement industry allows itself to be unsafe, it will cease to exist.

Jeff - Webmaster/Admin -,
"As far as I can tell it doesn't matter who you are. If you can believe, there's something worth fighting for..." - Garbage, "Parade"

Everyone is forgetting one important point.  The riders of these rides are often children.  You can't compare it to riding a motorcycle without a helmet.  Children don't drive motorcycles.

I  would like to know that someone is making sure that the rides are properly maintained and operated.  You can't tell just by looking at the ride. 

I would also like to know the safety record of rides/parks.  What's wrong with giving people this information?  You can't make an educated decision in a vacuume.

Congress uses reports like this to support their calls for more legislative power, the loss of our freedoms and the ability to shake down corporations for more money to stop legislation. They have no concern for our safety at all, liberals just use claims of worrying about safety to get more power for them and to help their good friends-the trial lawyers-making money by sueing the companies involved. If their are problems the private sector will fix it but not the government. Just remember that every law they pass takes away more of your freedom as they believe that the common person is too dumb so big brother government must watch over them and help them from themsleves.
Most of the injuries are from rider misconduct. Believe me, I work at a park and I see what these idiots do.
Welcome to Six Flags Great America. The land where we work on the non- working coasters!
While there are plenty of idiots out there and their misbehaviour does result in accidents, the data is clear that most serious and fatal accidents are not primarily caused by rider conducet.  Please, lets forget this fantasy.  Rider misconduct is only responsible for 25-30 percent of serious and fatal accidents.  I've waded through the data and that's the way it is.

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