Amusement parks, carnivals, and theme parks are popular attractions during the summer months. Given the death-defying heights of some amusement park rides and the speeds at which the rides travel, many people fear the safety of amusement park rides. In reality, however, the likelihood of being seriously injured on an amusement park ride is relatively low.
Despite the fact that 297 million people visited America’s approximately 400 fixed-site amusement parks and theme parks in 2011, only 1,415 injuries were reported and, of those, only 61 were serious injuries requiring overnight hospitalization. Far more dangerous than amusement parks and theme parks, however, are “mall rides” and those rides geared toward younger riders. According to a study published earlier this year in the journal Clinical Pediatrics, nearly 93,000 children under the age of 18 were treated in U.S. emergency rooms for ride-related injuries from 1990 to 2010, and 11,000 of those injuries involved rides at local malls, restaurants and arcades.
The study also revealed that theme parks and other amusement parks with fixed-site rides accounted for 34% of the injuries, whereas carnivals, festivals and other temporary locations accounted for 29% of emergency room injuries. (A quarter of the cases had insufficient information for accurate categorization.)
While roller coasters accounted for 10 percent of injuries and bumper cars accounted for 4 percent of injuries, carousels were the cause of 20.9 percent of injuries. Head and neck injuries were the most common injury reported (28 percent), often the result of falling from the ride. Other common injuries include strains and sprains (21 percent), cuts (20 percent), and broken bones (10 percent).
According to Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy, “Injuries from smaller amusement rides located in malls, stores, restaurants and arcades are typically given less attention by legal and public health professionals than injuries from larger amusement park rides, yet our study showed that in the U.S. a child is treated in an emergency department, on average, every day for an injury from an amusement ride located in a mall, store, restaurant or arcade. We need to raise awareness of this issue and determine the best way to prevent injuries from these types of rides.”
According to the USA Today, the study also revealed that:
- 70% of injuries occurred from May to September, with an average of 20 injuries a day during these months.
- The injury rate declined from 8.79 per 100,000 in 1991 to 4.41 per 100,000 in 2003.
- More girls were injured than boys (56% vs. 45%)
- Body areas most frequently injured were the head and neck (28%); arms (24%); face (18%); legs (17%)
The study offered the following safety tips for persons attending amusement parks, theme parks, and carnivals, as well as those using “mall rides:”
- Always follow posted height, age, weight and health restrictions.
- Make sure to follow any special seating order and/or loading instructions.
- Always use safety equipment such as seat belts and safety bars.
- Keep your hands and feet inside the ride at all times.
- Know your child. If you don’t think he/she will be able to follow the rules, keep him/her off the ride.
- Trust your instincts. If you are worried about the safety of the ride, choose a different activity.
- Avoid “mall rides” if they are over a hard, unpadded surface or if they don’t have a child restraint such as a seat belt.
Similarly, another study found that amusement park rides injure thousands of children every year. You can read about the findings of the study here.
The Chicago personal injury attorneys at Ankin Law Offices, LLC are dedicated to protecting the rights of those persons who are injured as a result of the negligence of another party, including negligent amusement park, carnival, and other ride operators. If you or your child was injured on a mall ride or at an amusement park or carnival, contact the Chicago personal injury law firm of Ankin Law Offices, LLC at (312) 600-0000 to discuss a possible premises liability lawsuit.