Rider responsibility bill making its way through South Carolina House

Posted Monday, January 31, 2005 9:53 AM | Contributed by supermandl

A South Carolina bill that would make amusement-ride patrons more responsible for their own safety passed a House subcommittee Thursday with almost no discussion. Six other states have similar laws.

Read more from The Sun News. Read the bill from South Carolina.

Monday, January 31, 2005 11:25 AM
Now this is a bill I can get behind, as most injuries are attributed to "rider error"!
Monday, January 31, 2005 11:31 AM
Does these mean that it will be harder for people to sue in S. Carolina if the park post/uses all the proper regulations?
Monday, January 31, 2005 11:38 AM
I suspect that would be the case. A lot of the more ridiculous suits that appear are more of your trip-and-fall variety. I seem to recall that happened a couple of times in the last couple of years at Cedar Point, but I don't know what became of the suits. Ohio also has a similar law in place.
Monday, January 31, 2005 11:45 AM
I think that more states/bodies of government should enact such mandates. Not that I neccessarily support all laws regarding amusement parks (ie, the New Jersey Manifesto), but this will help the parks a lot I think, since the majority of the accidents are to blame on the victim.
Monday, January 31, 2005 12:03 PM
Where exactly does everyone get the statistic that the "majority" of accidents are caused by the victim?
Monday, January 31, 2005 12:11 PM
I think the majority of accidents show that the victim is at fault, not that that they are to blame per sa. A lot of the time, they'll blame the park or a worker at the park... but a majority of the time, the victim is at their own fault for their wrongdoing... possibly not watching what they're doing, tripping on their own two feet, or just not following basic safety procedures.

Monday, January 31, 2005 12:35 PM
good, another state that realizes the moron factor is on the rise
Monday, January 31, 2005 1:07 PM
This is interesting:

Section 41-18-320. (A) A rider of a carnival or amusement device shall at a minimum:
(2) refrain from acting in any manner that may cause or contribute to injuring the rider of a carnival or amusement device, or others, including:

((c) not engaging a safety mechanism provided on a carnival or amusement device;

Will that remove the responsibility of the ops to check restraints? They have a seperate line dealing with the unfastening of the restraint.

Monday, January 31, 2005 1:37 PM
It's more of a C-Y-A move than anything else. In my observation, the majority of injuries are indeed the rider's (aka "victim's") responsibility, and are things that the rider doesn't think would be a bad idea.. like arms up on a roller coaster. At a bare minimum, they're unable to brace themselves properly on the ride, and at catastropic maximum, they're not hanging on if a restraint were to give.

In Pennsylvania you have PA Act 1994-58 which simply states that failure to comply with any safety procedure is cause for removal from the park without refund. (I forget the exact wording, but it's posted at every ride entrance @ Dorney)*** This post was edited by dannerman 1/31/2005 1:39:02 PM ***

Monday, January 31, 2005 3:15 PM

Where exactly does everyone get the statistic that the "majority" of accidents are caused by the victim?

I just ran a quick Google search on the subject and came up with the following 3 responses on the 1st page of results. I found nothing that would indicate the counterargument (i.e., that ride or operator failure cause the majority of accidents) is more accepted. I can't vouch for the objectivity or accuracy of the sources. I only see that this is indeed a repeated theme/statement in the discussion of amusement ride accidents.

1. Recent official figures for the Canadian province of Ontario indicate that the already-low number of serious injuries attributable to amusement rides has decreased even further in the last few years, and that most of these were due to rider error.

From: http://www.iaapa.org/modules/MediaNews/index.cfm?fuseaction=Details&mtid=3&iid=1047

2. In 80 percent of the amusement park accidents — defined as a ride-related injury requiring a trip to the hospital — over the past four years, human error was to blame, Ms. Abbott said.

And though she didn't have the specific figures, most of the error was on the part of the rider, she added. “We don't usually see a lot of operator error or mechanical error.”

From: http://www.enquirer.com/editions/1999/09/07/loc_ohio_lawmaker_asks.html

3. Analysis of the public documents and private surveys show that less than 20 percent of ride-related injuries are caused by design, operation, or maintenance problems. Most injuries are the result of horseplay, patron negligence, or other human error unrelated to the condition of the ride.

From: http://www.conklinshows.com/rides_safety.htm

I do not have the time or energy to search further, but indeed appears that the media covering accidents and events (IAAPA) repeat the mantra that the majority of accidents are caused by rider error. Seems like this is an accepted truth based upon some subjectivity and reviews of available statistics referencing ride accidents.

*Edited for format issues*

*** This post was edited by Jeffrey R Smith 1/31/2005 3:16:04 PM ****** This post was edited by Jeffrey R Smith 1/31/2005 3:16:56 PM ***

Monday, January 31, 2005 3:21 PM
Jeff, most of the people who die on rides are either obese with heart issues, or like the guy on Superman last year with a mess of problems etc. In other words, those warning signs meant nothing to them.
Monday, January 31, 2005 3:49 PM
I didn't say I don't believe it's the case, but if you're going to say it, you need to qualify it. You're giving an opinion, not facts. Smith's citations are more based on facts.
Monday, January 31, 2005 8:15 PM
Think what you will about Kathy Fackler, but her page here:


provides a lot more detail about these "rider error" claims than just about anything else I've seen.

One reason that a number like 80% is at the least misleading is that it attributes rider error even in cases involving very young children. To many people, a ride designed for, say, four-year-olds should be designed to make it impossible for the four-year-old to be injured by their own "negligence." In virtually all states, a child five or younger is legally considered incapable of being found negligent, and yet their "errors" are being used to support statistics like those.

The text of this statute looks a lot like Ohio's. In many cases, showing a violation of a statute like this will be considered negligence per se, which just means that the violator will be presumed to have acted negligently. That can reduce or eliminate a recovery, depending on the law of the state.

The final I gave in Torts last fall involved a statute very similar to that. You can see it, and the best answer I received, here:


(Mods, feel free to edit to make the links shorter and/or work if they don't. I'm in Safari so I don't get the pretty link editor stuff.)

Monday, January 31, 2005 8:40 PM
I cannot speak about less serious accidents, but I can speak with some authority about fatalities since I keep a database on amusement ride fatlities. About 40% of fatal accidents have rider misconduct as the primary cause. The other 60% of fatal accidents are primarily caused by either mechanical failure or operator error. In the case of each fatality I've tried to identify the primary cause.

Remember that many accidents actually have more than one cause. IE. The restraint was poorly designed so it broke. Maintenance didn't fix it properly. The operator didn't check it, and the rider thought it was cool to ride without the restraint so he didn't say anything. This may sound ridiculous, but some accidents are just about like this.

I suspect that the percentage of lesser accidents caused primarily by rider misconduct is greater, but I don't have any real data on it. I'm sure that it could be checked out easily by reviewing the records of one of the states that has amusement ride reporting requirements.

Monday, January 31, 2005 9:02 PM
Thanks for something based on data, Jim. Could you provide some definitions for "rider misconduct" and "primary cause"? What sources do you use for your analyses?
Monday, January 31, 2005 9:46 PM
I wonder if Carowinds will see about getting this applied to both halves of the park and not just the South Carolina side? Be interesting to see how tis works out for them.


Monday, January 31, 2005 10:50 PM
Well, if you fall out of Thunder Road at Carowinds, make sure you do it on the NC half of the ride, LOL!
Monday, January 31, 2005 11:00 PM
Seems like there is propaganda on both sides of this issue. The only thing that seems clear, is that there is not enough reliable and valid data available to get to the truth. Until sound data collection methods are standardized across all the states, it will be very difficult if not impossible to identify causative factors of accidents.
Tuesday, February 1, 2005 12:17 AM
Jeff said:
"I didn't say I don't believe it's the case, but if you're going to say it, you need to qualify it. You're giving an opinion, not facts. Smith's citations are more based on facts."

Why would I wast time repeating what was said right above me, when I know (and you know) how many accidents have been to blame on the rider. Should I go find even more articles?


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