Posted Thursday, May 15, 2008 9:39 AM | Contributed by Joey Stewart
Senator Ed Markey had a press conference with Kaitlyn Lasitter, the teen who lost her feet in a ride accident at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom, to promote a bill that would give investigative authority to the consumer product safety commission, and allow it to facilitate information and data between states.
What Markey proposes would not have prevented this accident, especially given the mounting evidence that Six Flags was likely negligent in their maintenance of the ride. Furthermore, the sharing of information and national industry reaction was instant. Without any federal oversight, similar rides all over the country were closed immediately and inspected after the accident, many for several days.
At risk of sounding like a Republican, legislating causes like this "for the children" adds to the crushing over-spending the feds already do. If there was a measurable impact, a clear cause and effect, where the law would do the things Markey says it would, I'd be all for it. This bill isn't that.
Even more unfortunate is that Markey has had this as a pet cause for ten years, wasting untold cash and time on it, and yet he's one of the more vocal proponents of something truly useful, like Net neutrality.
At risk of sounding like a Republican...
Seems you've been doing that more and more lately. :)
[While fixed rides are not, m]obile rides in this country are regulated by the CPSC. Because of this additional oversight one might expect mobile rides to have fewer injuries than fixed-site rides. However, accidents on mobile rides make up nearly half of the total injuries reported by CPSC between 1997-2004, despite ridership being lower at these attractions. This illustrates that the CPSC jurisdiction over mobile rides has had little impact on their safety record.
The biggest problem that I have with this guy is not that he wants to regulate the industry, it's that his proposals are completely useless. The rides not under CPSC jurisdiction are overwhelmingly safer than those that they have control over. That's a fact, not just industry spin.
It's regulation for the sake of regulation, and that's a waste of time and money. Nothing he has proposed will help anyone be any safer.
I guess you're right that regulation in and of itself isn't necessarily something anyone would oppose, if it were meaningful. The debate in the hearings should be one of, "Does the industry do enough to regulate itself, in combination with state agencies." And it should be a debate without using the "do it for the children" tag line.
For the sake of argument though, consider Kathy Fackler's comment:
OK... so let's say that the CPSC could have investigated. What outcome would be different? The things that Markey suggest need to happen "for the children" happened with zero government intervention. Similar rides were closed and inspected. Everyone, industry or not, knew about the accident. Investigations were conducted by local officials, insurance companies, Six Flags, the family's attorney... that's a whole lot of coverage.
"If this girl's legs had been severed in a lawnmower accident, or an ATV accident, the Consumer Product Safety Commission would have investigated. If she were an employee of Six Flags, instead of a paying customer, OSHA [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] would have investigated," Fackler said.
Join the debate. How would what he is proposing have prevented the accident? Your assertion that "obviously" the current system isn't enough somehow implies that more regulation would have led to Six Flags not being negligent in the maintenance of the ride. Back that up.
I feel tearribly sorry for what happened to her and several of the issues that happend in that incident have already been addressed.
Put in this legislation, I almost guarantee there will be no change in safety related incidents at parks. 99 percent of them are USER ERROR..
Hate to say it but TOOL comes to mind.
KTS, From you other post on the message board, Sorry but if some proven terrorist with intentitions of killing more americans can give info on several others. I say rack em up, Waterboard em, Castrate em, Whatever it takes.
Chuck, saying thats just another bleeding heart cause to be in the spotlight. There is no Humane for people that are worse than animals.
Neither the amusement or the airline industry is in the business of killing or maiming their customers. It's bad business.
I am all for amusement park safety, but I also believe that we need to stop regulating everything and let the free-market system take care of things on it's own.
For what it's worth, the system worked here for Kaitlyn. She got a decent settlement for her pain and suffering. The parks, not just Six Flags, re-evaluated their drop towers, and made adjustments in the process. No one told them to do this. They did it so they did not have similar accidents and end up with huge lawsuits in the process.
And for Charles, I only pointed out that he was a champion against torture. I never said I agreed with him ;) Honestly, he is one of the most liberal members of congress. For some people that might be a good thing. I can't stand that myself. Still, I gotta be honest and say that he isn't wasting any more money on pet projects than any other senator or congressman is. All politicians are good liars and they will say or do anything to get elected.
Anyway, Jeff has done a good job with my perspective on this. If we run the clock back to 1999 when Ed Markey first introduced his legislation, two things we could count on: First, the nation would be $5,000,000 poorer from allocations to the CPSC. Not a lot, but it's still $5M. And second, Kaitlyn Lasitter would still be short about a foot and a half. I'm sorry, but the CPSC is not in the business of doing proactive incident prevention, except to the point of trying to avoid preventing repeated mistakes. If the SFKK incident was caused by a design or maintenance problem (and we don't *really* know that yet) then the CPSC methodology would require that the incident occur before anything would be done to prevent it.
About the only thing that would be different is that the other drop towers might still be closed today pending the outcome of the CPSC investigation. That's about the only thing that would be different if Markey's bill had passed.
--Dave Althoff, Jr.
The last time this was done was WWII and before that the Great depresion.
Someone hit the nail on the head, The more govt. regulation there is just means more $$ for someone.
I hope like hell Kaitlyn just gives her message and moves on without being paraded around as a tool like Cindy Sheenan (Again another tragic case turned pimped to death by polititians.)
Chuck, not trying to sound insensitive, Just factual.
One of the problems though from what I understand is the resistance of such companies as Disney and Universal to let inspectors in because they're worried that secrets will be let out as to how some of the attractions work. But, I don't think it hurts to have a second set of eyes inspecting attractions.
Every time there is a problem with a California ride they government hijacks the ride and the resulting state reports have in some instances failed to place blame where it was due.
I agree with Jeff that Markey appears to be using Kaitlyn. She's being feed lines and is clearly not informed on the overall situation, for which there is none.
Dave is absolutely right that Markey's bill wouldn't have prevented this accident.
Did anyone else notice that Kathy Fackler has in her most recent editorial stated the causes of the Superman accident as if they're fact instead of hearsay.
*** This post was edited by egieszl 5/16/2008 12:37:54 AM ***
Here's what I don't understand. If Markey really wants to do some good with amusement ride safety, why not...
1) Set a target standard for all states to follow, with the threat of Federal intervention, preferably based on industry standards.
This is why we have a uniform set of building codes and traffic laws. Those things are not Federally regulated, but the localized variations are minimal enough that the standards are reasonably consistent. Why? Because the legislation is based on industry standards.
2) Establish a specific program for registering amusement rides and collecting incident data.
3) Establish an incident response team to handle ride incidents in the same way that the NTSB handles aviation incidents
Any of those things would be a lot more effective than simply granting the CPSC the authority to do what other agencies are already doing.
--Dave Althoff, Jr.
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