How amusement park rides can cause serious harm

The highlight of these trips is often the rides. Rollercoasters and other amusement park rides usually provide a stomach-churning but safe thrill. Rarely, however, an accident occurs that causes serious injury. A 2013 report published in the medical journal Pediatrics that examined 20 years of emergency room data reported that about 4,400 children are hurt on amusement park rides each year in the U.S.

Such rides can be put into three categories:

  • Fixed-site rides, like at theme parks and state fairs.
  • Mobile rides, like ones rented for smaller fairs or part of traveling carnivals.
  • Mall rides, found at shopping malls and arcades.

Though accidents at fixed-site rides tend to make the biggest headlines, such incidents actually only make up about a third of ride accidents that lead to emergency room visits for children under 18. Mobile rides caused about an equal number of trips to the ER, while mall rides were to blame about 12 percent of the time. The remainder of the injuries came from unknown rides.

Accidents on amusement park rides are often due to negligence by the designer of the ride, the builder or the operator. A dangerous design, or failure to keep the ride properly maintained, can create unsafe conditions that lead to serious injury. Those responsible should be held financially accountable.