Amusement Ride Injuries Up Sharply, Study Says Industry Disputes Federal Statistics

Article excerpt

TOLEDO, Ohio -- It's a report that could frighten even the most fearless thrill-seeker: In the past four years, the number of injuries at the nation's amusement parks has nearly doubled.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission's annual study, released this week, found there were about 7,260 rider injuries last year at amusement parks, compared to 3,720 injuries in 1996. Add in fairs and carnivals, and there were 10,380 injuries last year.

"Thrill rides are supposed to give people the illusion of danger, not put them in danger," said Ann Brown, the commission's chairwoman.

Park operators disputed the findings and said the skyrocketing numbers were flawed.

The report, based on injuries that were serious enough to warrant emergency treatment, comes at a time when amusement parks have come under closer scrutiny.

Six people died last year on amusement park and carnival rides in the United States. Some lawmakers have proposed giving the government expanded authority to regulate all rides.

The commission now regulates rides that travel from site to site with carnivals and seasonal fairs. But regulation of roller coasters and other rides at amusement parks is left to states, more than a dozen of which lack inspection programs.

Amusement industry leaders say they have noticed no increase in injuries, and question the commission's findings. The number of injuries listed in the report is based on surveys taken at 100 hospitals across the nation.

"The whole thing is kind of curious," said John Graff, president of International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions. …

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