<i>USA Today</i> continues to sensationalize amusement safety

Posted Monday, July 31, 2000 5:44 AM | Contributed by Jeff

In yet another stunning lack of common sense journalism, USA Today reports that federal regulation of amusement parks is necessary, according to a forthcoming government report. Read the story here. The report says there has been a rise in "amusement park ride" injuries, but does not differentiate between portable and permanent rides, or describe what the term "amusement ride" entails (namely if it counts local go cart tracks, climbing walls, etc.).

The worst part of USA Today's report is that they reference a recent ride break-down that stranded passengers for "several hours." What this has to do with safety is beyond me. I was stuck on the lift of Six Flags America's new Superman coaster when the chain broke. It, like similar incidents, are the result of safety systems doing what they're supposed to, not "accidents." This is exactly the kind of stupid Fox-style reporting that it getting people all worked up. USA Today should be ashamed of this poor reporting, as it is only intended to sell newspapers.

A better, more common sense approach to regulation, would be for individual states to regulate themselves, as is the case now. Washington doesn't need another agency "looking out for us" when the states are doing just fine. If any one state is not doing a good job regulating its rides, then that is an issue for the constituents of that state, not Congressman Ed Markey of Massachusettes.

Monday, July 31, 2000 2:50 PM
How come they never compare ride accident statistics to school sport injuries, or accidents that involve a teenage driver (not DWI),or statistics of no-no's at day care centers.I am pretty positive that toddlers and teenagers have the highest rate of injuries on amusements.

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"Let's Take This One For A Ride !"
-DC Talk,'Luv Is A Verb'
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Monday, July 31, 2000 3:38 PM
If you think about it, if you caculate how many people ride ONE roller coaster at any park in one year, and one or two people get hurt, you rodds of getting hurt are RARE, really RARE.
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Monday, July 31, 2000 4:38 PM
Flying in an airplane is more dangerous, let alone every time you sit in an automobile. More taxes to improve our safety, where it's not needed.


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There's nothing like a woodie...
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Monday, July 31, 2000 4:51 PM
The government needs to STAY OUT OF THE coaster business! They need to focus on crime not coasters. The government has no right what so very to make a big deal of coasters!!!
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Monday, July 31, 2000 5:21 PM
I wonder if the reporters have ever been in a coaster.
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Monday, July 31, 2000 6:05 PM
I sent some feedback to usatoday.com telling them the real story. They probably won't even see it but its worth the try. Anyway I ended the e-mail by saying:
"It's not the amusement industry that needs federal regulation, it's the idiots that cause the accidents and the oftenly misinformed and overly exaggerative media that need it most."
(no offense to Jeff)
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Monday, July 31, 2000 6:52 PM
Published in HealthWise by Weyerhauser – May 2000
Source: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

Product/Activity............Est. No. of ER Visits

Stairs, ramps, landings, floors.. 1,975,074
Basketball........................ 631,186
Bicycles & accessories............ 597,284
Football.......................... 355,247
Baseball, softball................ 312,821
Playground equipment.............. 248,372
Exercise, exercise equipment...... 215,831
Glass doors, windows, panels...... 185,071
Ladders, stools................... 174,631
Soccer............................ 169,734
ATVs, mopeds, minibikes, etc...... 145,258
Swimming, pools, equipment........ 137,089
Carpets, rugs..................... 117,588
In-line skating................... 110,783
Trampolines....................... 95,239
Lawnmowers........................ 76,421
Volleyball........................ 66,191
Horseback riding.................. 64,692
Lawn, garden equipment............ 59,392
Skateboards....................... 54,532
Television sets & stands.......... 44,750
Glass bottles, jars............... 44,449
Small kitchen appliances.......... 40,912
Power home tools (excluding saws). 36,136
Cleaning agents................... 33,823
Chain saws........................ 33,158
Racquet sports.................... 31,649
Hand garden tools................. 31,156
Water skiing, tubing, surfing..... 28,761
Amusement attractions (inc. rides) 19,211
Barbecue grills, stoves, equip.... 17,769
Beach, picnic, camping equipment.. 16,949
Paints, solvents, lubricants...... 16,478
Air conditioners.................. 13,211
Trimmers, sm power garden tools... 12,452

Although I totally agree with the government not messing with rollercoasters and parks, I think we should, as coaster enthusiasts, take steps to help make parks even safer with suggestions to parks and associations.

We can't expect the ride operators to be able to catch every strange thing that people might do when they jump on the rides.

Just recently I pointed out someone on a ride that tucked his camera on his seat next to him, the ride operators just didn't see it, and when I pointed it out, they made him leave it behind.

Let's face it, some people do not think when they get into the park, and they can be the most dangerous problem we might encounter.

CoasterEd
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Tuesday, August 1, 2000 5:39 AM
HURRAY FOR ED!!!!
I get annoyed with people like my brother (26yearold)who shove things into their side pockets and say "There's no way it will fall out or I don't care it's only change (coins).I wonder if you could lose a tooth on the Areo at Kennywood coming back down in a circle that way.Sunglasses can be a problem.SFO sells clip on glasses cases.I wish they sold joggers wrist wallets.
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"Let's Take This One For A Ride !"
-DC Talk,'Luv Is A Verb'
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Tuesday, August 1, 2000 6:05 AM
Again, YOU ARE MORE LIKELY TO WIN THE LOTTERY - TWICE - THAN BE HURT ON A ROLLER COASTER!

And speaking of careless riders, I remember seeing a rider talking on his cell phone on the Aero 360! That's what causes accidents.

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APC11
Co-webmaster/graphic designer
Kennywood Park Unlimited
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Tuesday, August 1, 2000 7:56 AM
Published in HealthWise by Weyerhauser – Feb 2000
Source: Fred Kilbourne, Risk Expert

Your risk of being killed on an amusement park ride? One in 250 million.

Your risk of being killed driving home from an amusement park ride? One in 7,000.


Obviously, we need to spend more time on the coasters, and less time leaving the parks.

CoasterEd
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Tuesday, August 1, 2000 6:57 PM
I agree that amusement parks are generally safe, but I think that everyone is missing the big picture. It's true that most reporters can't tell a roller coaster apart from a flat-ride etc. as I've seen countless times. But I think that there's a lot of corporate greed that occurs at these parks. How many more times is someone going to substitute an inferior part to save a couple of dollars, while killing someone in the process? Disney in particular is fighting legislation the hardest. Disney doesn't want you to know about the high amount of injuries on rides such as Indiana & the Temple of Doom because that would drive down attendance. People also are comparing amusement rides to driving which is a bad analogy. No one has to ride any amusement device, but for most people driving a car is a necessity. Imagine that you were the one injured on a ride or know someone who's been injured or killed and I bet you'd feel differently. I'm still riding after last years week from hell in August, but it made me think very hard about my passion. Also, eveyone seems to be afraid that the Feds are going to come in and put trim-brakes on every coaster. Well, the parks seem to be doing a good job of that themselves!
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Sunday, August 6, 2000 8:50 PM
Mostly people being hurt on rollercoasters are them not obeying ride rules and regualtions
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