Posted on August 22, 2016 · Posted in Brain Injury

Seventy-five people were injured and two were killed on Wisconsin amusement rides in the last decade, but tracking and enforcement is limited, according to the Sheboygan Press.

amusement rides

The country lacks a single federal agency that collects data and enforces standards on amusement rides. (Flickr / Creative Commons / Javier Morales)

People ride millions of rides at amusement parks and fairs every year, but the safety of these rides is currently in question.

However, there is no single federal agency charged with collecting data and enforcing standards, so numbers are inconsistent and responses dissatisfying.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission can regulate portable rides at fairs, but the fixed rides at amusement parks remain outside if their jurisdiction.

Regulation varies by city and state with amusement rides sometimes being inspected by groups responsible for building inspections or labor issues.

And federal regulation of roller coaster safety stopped in 1981, which was prior to when most modern rides were built.

Sen. Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts tried to pass legislation every year from 1999 to 2011 that would call for stricter federal regulation, data collection and inspections. The legislation failed to pass.

In one study in the journal of Clinical Pediatrics, researchers estimated that there were 4,400 injuries per year in children 17 and under on typical amusement rides, based on CPSC data. The author said that the data was limited because it only looked at emergency room visits, not visits to regular physicians’ offices or urgent care clinics.

In Wisconsin, there are six inspectors from the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services who examine rides during the summer. Amusement rides are required to register at which point they receive a sticker of half of the state of Wisconsin. They receive the other half when they complete the annual inspection.

Their inspections can last several hours where they check anything from the electrical system to structural integrity and safety bars. Maintenance and training records are also reviewed.

However, the agency has no power to fine people who do not pass inspections, so they are normally just inspected more often.

The CPSC also might investigate injuries on mobile rides like at carnivals and fairs. They also distribute safety bulletins (like a recall) when manufacturers recognize that safety changes need to be made.

To stay safe on rides, make sure you follow all seating and loading instructions as well as health, height, and weight guidelines.

About the Author

Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice :: 800-992-9447