Kentucky Senate introduces ride safety legislation

Posted Friday, March 7, 2008 11:57 AM | Contributed by Jason Hammond

Kentucky lawmakers are taking steps aimed at improving the safety of amusement rides in the wake of a grisly accident last year that severed the feet of a girl at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom in Louisville. A Senate committee approved legislation on Thursday that bars anyone younger than 18 or anyone under the influence of alcohol from operating amusement rides. The measure would also require amusement ride operators to perform self-inspections each day before opening for business.

Read more from AP via The Herald-Leader.

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Friday, March 7, 2008 12:33 PM
It doesn't matter if a person is 16 or 18. They are still immature at that age. Has anyone heard of frats, for goodness sakes? When does one become mature? Some people are more mature than others. It's not the age, but it's the individual. The more immature people aren't 18 though. Keep on going up the age ladder, and you will find more mature people. So, just put the 16 year olds doing the games, or food.

So, let me get this straight with alcohol. Are they saying that a person that has drank alcohol within a day / week / month can't work at an amusement park / carnival or are they saying that if they check you at the time you are working, than you can't run a ride? I hope it's the second one. There are people that are over 21 that they do work at amusement parks and carnivals that can drink legally.

I like that they now have inspections before every business day, but what about staffing, and time? Will they have enough 18 year olds, or not? 18 year olds are the college kids now. They don't have a schedule like high school kids. High school kids can be there late and early in the season. The problem with these regional parks is that they aren't year round (duh), and thus who wants a job for half the year, and than they have to find a new job.

I really hope if you work for an amusement park that you don't have to keep on interviewing every year. They know you from last year, and they just let you come back. Could someone tell me if they know that, or not? That would be such a pain.

Friday, March 7, 2008 1:04 PM
Does anyone really believe that having someone two years older at the controls would have prevented this accident? I think this is just a knee-jerk reaction from the Kentucky lawmakers so they can tell their constituents they have taken steps to make things safer, when in actuality they have no idea what they are doing.
Friday, March 7, 2008 1:15 PM
I kinda agree wtih Spinout. The better course of action is to have beenter training and better policies in place. Also good suppervision to any Goof Offs and

NO CELL PHONE talking while operating a ride!


Friday, March 7, 2008 1:18 PM
I've worked with 16 and 17 year old ride operators who are more responsible and mature than the college students. If anything, the fault is with the ride operator training--I don't think I've seen operators at any park watch a drop ride during the entire cycle. I guess these rides lull ops into a false sense of security... between the harnesses, seat belts, and magnetic brakes, it's hard to imagine what could go wrong.
Friday, March 7, 2008 1:19 PM
^^^^When does one become mature? About 25, according to neuropsychologists. That's about the time when the frontal cerebral cortex - the region of the brain responsible for planning and decision-making - finishes developing.On the other hand, some people never mature, so it is sort of a rhetorical question.

Edited for carrot correction.
*** This post was edited by Ensign Smith 3/7/2008 1:20:08 PM ***

Friday, March 7, 2008 1:20 PM
Jeff's avatar Well according to Spinout, the answer is to outlaw fraternity members, since they're all, according to him, immature.
Friday, March 7, 2008 1:26 PM
Considering the people who post on this website (who I know are adults), I'm not sure that this is the proper place to debate what qualifies as "mature."
Friday, March 7, 2008 1:31 PM
beast7369's avatar If having fun counts as being immature....count me in on being immature.
Friday, March 7, 2008 3:30 PM
Olsor's avatar Hooray for do-nothing, feel-good legislation! Sad to see the girl's father actually feels placated by this. Trust me, pal, your slam-dunk lawsuit against Six Flags will do more to change their operating procedures than any toothless legislation will.

All this does is make it slightly harder for Kentucky parks to staff rides. It doesn't compel them to train their employees any better, nor does it compel them to inspect their rides any better.

Friday, March 7, 2008 4:11 PM
eightdotthree's avatar Seriously though, if your old enough to drive a car I think your old enough to operate an amusement ride. Its a matter of management and training if you ask me.
Friday, March 7, 2008 4:16 PM
kpjb's avatar Many 16- and 17-year olds are new to the workforce, and with the proper training and management can be quite responsible ride operators. Many 18-year olds have been in the workforce a few years already and are quite jaded and don't give a crap.
Friday, March 7, 2008 5:02 PM
I'm turning 16 in two weeks, and I think I dont think that I would be ready to handle operating a ride, becausse I know I am easily distracted from the task at hand, but I dont like driving because it holds too much risk everytime I get on the road, and partly because of my backseat driving parents.
Friday, March 7, 2008 5:55 PM
I do believe the two year difference is a lot. Anybody 18 years old or a staff member in a high school can tell you that. The difference in maturity from being a freshman to senior is huge. Many things change in that time.

First is getting your drivers license. For better or for worse, this builds responsibility of driving a car and adding a whole lot more freedom and independence from when Mom drove you everywhere or you took your bike.

Second is getting your first job. Whether it be working at McDonald's, being a busboy at a restaurant, or being a cashier at a retail store, at age 16 most kids get their first experience at getting a job and that again adds a lot of responsibility.

Third is working on your ACT's and applying for college. This is another stage where kids face reality that they are growing up and going into the real world.

At age 16 you're still a sophomore in high school while at age 18 majority of kids are graduating and moving to a college dorm to live on their own. The independence factor and maturity grow greatly. The presence of Mommy and Daddy to the rescue decreases and you are even required to make your own decisions legally.

Driving a car is far different from operating a ride. Instead of you getting from point A to point B safely, you're dealing with thousands of people every hour at a repetitive task that can be grueling. Maturity and alertness are key and I believe that those key skills develop greatly in those two years.

I'm 19 right now and worked at CP for one year so far as a ride operator. CP requires you to be 18+ while KI requires 16+ and the differences are very evident when visiting the two parks and watching the employees.

Where alcohol and minors fall shouldn't really be related to this. It's a whole other issue that is being faced outside of the amusement parks.

Friday, March 7, 2008 10:00 PM
^At age 16 I was a junior.
Friday, March 7, 2008 11:19 PM

What matters is that there is a difference between those ages. Are there exceptions, of course, but that's what interviews and job performance reviews are for. It's the employers duty to make sure they hire the best.

Saturday, March 8, 2008 12:15 AM
You know, you have to be 18 to operate a meat slicer, a cardboard bailer, vote... seems like a no-brainer to me... amazing they're just now making it illegal to be drunk to operate heavy machinery that human beings are riding on.
Saturday, March 8, 2008 2:00 AM
With all due respect, a lot more can go wrong with a meat slicer than on a computerized amusement ride.
Saturday, March 8, 2008 3:04 AM
What's so computerized about it? The ride itself runs on its own, but getting people in the trains properly and knowing what to do in emergencies is crucial. A computer can only do so much.
Saturday, March 8, 2008 3:57 AM
I'm not sure what you have against teenagers, but they're capable of making sure that people are above the height stick and have their restraint all the way down. Honest.

As for emergencies, they should be covered in training; again, a 16 or 17 year old is capable of memorizing those procedures. Response to anything outside of normal ride behavior can vary, but I know plenty of adults who have poor decision making ability.

I'm not trying to be argumentative, but after working at an amusement park for five years, I can safely say that I've met plenty of minors who I trust more than 18+ employees or even adults. Granted, there are plenty of immature kids out there, but I know of a few adults who have no problem coming into work with a hangover--why should we automatically trust them more?

As long as parks properly train and monitor their employees, there should be no problem with minors operating amusement rides. This was a knee-jerk reaction by state legislators which does not solve any of the issues encountered at Kentucky Kingdom.


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