Oakwood defends its safety record

Posted Thursday, May 18, 2006 9:08 AM | Contributed by Jeff

The managing director of Oakwood has defended the park's safety record, at the inquest into the death of a teenager on a rollercoaster. She said that around 120 million rides had been safely completed at Oakwood prior to 16-year-old Hayley Williams' death in April 2004. The teenager fell out of the Hydro ride, and testimony suggests her lap bar was not secured or checked.

Read more from the BBC.

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Thursday, May 18, 2006 9:11 AM
"But, he revealed, he was able to get out of Hayley's seat unaided even after pulling the security lap bar down into place."

There you go... that confirms what we suspected all along about the seat design. With a ride that exerts those kinds of forces, I would think that common sense should dictate that wiggling out should be impossible.

I will add that over-the-shoulder restraints are totally unnecessary, as we've seen plenty of lap bar systems (including Intamin's Dragster-generation seats) that lock you in quite adequately.

Thursday, May 18, 2006 9:40 AM
He could get out on his own with the lapbar down?!

Okay, I was under the assumption that this ride had the same seats as Perilous Plunge, which are very similar to MF's and not the S:RoS rides. On a ride like this, the easiest way to remedy this problem though would be over-the-shoulder-restraints because Knott's solution for Perilous Plunge sucks and very time consuming. Either that or reprofile that drop so you don't get that pop of air that you do. I vaguely remember my Perilous Plunge back in early 03 having that crazy "OMG I slammed up into my lapbar" moment

~Rob Willi

Thursday, May 18, 2006 10:32 AM
NO! OTSR's are not a remedy for anything. They're complete overkill. As Dave has described time and time again, securing you by the thighs in a way that prevents you from turning your legs and bending them in a way that lets you slide out is adequate. Premier Rides knows this (though the foot things aren't necessary if your knees are significantly higher than your ass). The Dragster seats are, in my non-expert opinion, the best restraints in every way, save for the lack of a true go/no-go indicator.
Thursday, May 18, 2006 10:44 AM
That he could squeeze out of the lap bar proves very little.

One time I visited Lakemont Park and rode the Skyliner. The train was nearly full, with only one seat left. I sat in the empty seat. Trouble is, the lap bar release solenoid for that seat was missing. So I had to climb in and out with the lap bar locked down. I had no trouble doing it.

But that fact by itself does not mean that I was inadequately restrained on that ride.

There is a difference between climbing out and being thrown out. One of the issues here is the question of whether Hayley climbed out or was thrown. The presumption at this time is that she was thrown. Personally, I think the distinction is important, but unfortunately is rather difficult to prove.

Perhaps as important: "The court heard how the G-force as the boat plunged would have been capable of flipping out anyone who was not secured." Which begs the question: Is it appropriate for a ride such as this one to generate that kind of force? As I pointed out in the other thread, a ride that throws you from the seat doesn't have to throw you more than a couple of inches to be a great ride. Once you get far enough to be dragged down by the lap bar, you've gone far enough. Anything more than that adds nothing to the ride experience but potential danger and larger bruises on the thigh.

Of course the other point for controlling the forces on the ride is that in the absence of convincing evidence that the rider climbed out of the ride, the only good means of proof is to demonstrate convincingly that the ride won't throw an unsecured rider. If the ride WILL throw an unsecured rider, then you get into this whole issue of whether the rider was properly secured or not.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

Thursday, May 18, 2006 10:54 AM
Jeff, just a clarification:

The OSTR remedy I mentioned as the EASIEST remedy, not the best. Replacing the seats and lapbars would be more costly and would take the ride down for a while, same goes for reprofiling the drop. KingDa Ka's OSTR's aren't anything like Premier's or Arrow's restraints.


As far as securing by the thighs while I would have agreed with you on that over three months ago, but my son would beg to differ ;)

~Rob Willi

Thursday, May 18, 2006 11:00 AM
Jeff: The ankle bars on the Premier lap bars are there for the same reason that Millennium Force has the angle-iron over your toes. If you have skinny thighs and you can stretch your legs out in front of you, you can potentially straighten your legs, drop your knees, and slide out from under the lap bar. That can be prevented by making the seat deeper, but if the seat is too deep, you prevent some smaller people from riding because they either can't sit back in the seat, or their knees won't break over the edge of the seat. The ankle bar is a compromise to solve that problem.

Personally, my favorite lap bar design right now is the setup that Setpoint uses, and that Intamin *almost* uses on Storm Runner and Kingda Ka. Take the overhead crap off of those lap bars and you'd have a great design that avoids most of the problems associated with conventional lap bars.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

Thursday, May 18, 2006 12:55 PM
I don't think the "angle iron" on the Millennium Force trains serve any restraint purpose. I can most certainly put my feet on top of them.

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