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An Amusing Nightmare

Submitted by Anonymous on Mar 24th, 2009

We're gearing up for yet another year for Congressman Edward Markey's (D-MA) bill regarding a bill known as the National Amusement Park Safety Act. This act, introduced six times since 1999, and usually near Memorial Day weekend, closes a 1981 loophole exempting amusement park and theme park rides from federal safety oversight. Nearly all consumer products are governed by the US Consumer Product Commission, which has the authority to investigate accidents, develop and enforce action plans to improve safety requirements, require accident reports, and act as a clearinghouse for statistical data - all of which are imperative to premises and product liability complaints, claims, and cases.

So do you think amusement rides are safe? 2007 industry data shows that 4.6 riders out of every million are injured - but this data hasn't been updated, it's industry maintained, and often times, injuries are serious and high-profile. And how likely is the teenager operating the ride to fill out an accident report for less serious - but still costly - injuries? We think there's a pile of dirt under the rug.

Just ask the parents of Jon-Kely Cassara - their seven year-old son was recently killed by an amusement park ride in Westchester County, New York.

The amusement park industry has resisted efforts to fall into federal safety jurisdiction, but has pled in front of Congress for money to make its rides safer - a classic Marie Antoinette 'have your cake and eat it too' moment.

And what to do while the lobbyists and Congress duke it out for another year? The typical safety tips - none of which address the possibilities for operator/maintenance negligence, nor reduce the amusement park's liability.