Roller coasters are synonymous with summer. For thrill chasers, nothing comes close to the speed, dips, and turns of riding a roller coaster. But a series of accidents this summer has officials questioning whether or not these rides are safe. Currently, there are no federal standards for roller coaster safety despite the potential health risks of riding.
The amusement park industry maintains that the chances of getting injured on a permanently stationed ride is 1 in 9 million, but experts warn that with the quick turns and intense speeds of a roller coaster, you can get hurt without realizing it. In fact, tragedy struck a few weeks ago when Army Sgt. James Thomas Hackemer fell from a 208-foot roller coaster in upstate New York. Hackemer was a veteran of the Iraq war and a double-amputee who lost both of his legs to a roadside bomb. Currently, authorities are conducting an investigation into the man’s death and the safety of the roller coaster.
In a second incident in Arlington, Texas riders were forced to scale the Texas Giant lift hill at Six Flags theme park after the roller coaster abruptly stopped mid-ride. The hill is approximately 14 stories high and this was the second time in three days that the ride had to be shut down due to troubling noises. Luckily, none of the riders were injured but were shaken nonetheless.
While there may be no federal regulations for amusement park rides there are ways that parents can protect themselves and their children on roller coasters this summer. First, amusement parks should have their safety records online. Second, always follow ride guidelines such as height and weight recommendations. Also, if you have a medical condition such as high blood pressure or a heart condition, don’t get on the ride. Overall, use common sense and make sure that you are properly fastened in your seat with the over-the-shoulder harness or lap belt.
recently named in the 2009 edition of Best Lawyer's In America, David Mittleman has been representing seriously injured people since 1985. A partner with Church Wyble PC—a division of Grewal Law PLLC—Mr. Mittleman and his partners focus on medical malpractice, wrongful death, car accidents, slip and falls, nursing home injury, pharmacy/pharmacist negligence and disability claims.