Amusement Park Safety in Pennsylvania, Post Texas Incident

Jul 30, 2013

Ten days ago, a woman riding the “Texas Giant” at the Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington, Texas., fell to her death from the 14-story roller coaster, and the investigation of the death is ongoing.

Texas Department of Insurance requires yearly inspections of amusement rides by the park’s independent insurance company. In Pennsylvania and Ohio, the states’ departments of agriculture regulate ride inspection. Ohio requires yearly, mid-season and spot inspections. Six states, Alabama, Nevada, Mississippi, South Dakota, Wyoming and Utah, don't have any inspection requirements.

Credit Flickr/Roller Coaster Philosophy

Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Samantha Elliot Krepps said Pennsylvania amusement park rides have one of the top inspection programs in the nation.

“Pennsylvania is one of only a few states where safety ride inspectors are on site when the parks are operating,” Krepps said. “No ride opens without an inspection from the Department of Agriculture.”

Of the 11 million people who visited amusement parks in Pennsylvania last year, nearly 300 reported injuries. Sixty of those 300 required medical treatment, but 70 percent of the nearly 300 injuries were a result of not following posted instructions of safe rider guidelines.

Kennywood spokesman Jeff Filicko said amusement park-goers should obey posted warning signs and listen to the employees operating the ride. He added people should watch a ride before getting on.  Although Pennsylvania only requires monthly ride inspections, Filicko said someone inspects Kennywood rides everyday.

“So if you’re looking at something like the Jack Rabbit, a mechanic or carpenter walks that track start to finish to inspect it, looks at the brakes, the trains themselves, does test runs and goes through that process every single day before we open any ride  inside of Kennywood,” Filicko said.

Even the merry-go-round, he said.