I went through a couple of web sites and researched data that was on the Internet regarding ride accidents. I was curious as to the amount of ride accidents and the severity of them. I have been a carnival game operator for 19 years and I hardly see or here of any accidents.
My research was based on the year 2007 only. I looked in only two major web sites and they showed several accidents. These two sites were somewhat duplicates and the one site, amusementsafety.org, had all the accidents on rides that the other did for my area of research. I did leave out all accidents that occurred everywhere except the continental United States. That means I excluded all other countries plus Alaska and Hawaii. The reason for that was that I have never traveled with the carnivals any where but the continental United States and Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico did not have any accidents listed on these web sites.
I found 33 separate accidents listed. 17 happened on carnival lots and 16 happened at other venues such as amusement park, zoo, indoor playground, and other permanent stationary facilities. I feel that there were many more accidents that were not reported but do not know. Some accidents are so minor and if the person does not go to the authorities it will go unreported. When you factor in how many times people get on rides, 33 seems like an extremely small amount of accidents.
Of the 33 accidents 81 people were either injured or died. Carnivals had 35 people involved in their accidents while the amusement park type facilities had 46 people involved in their accidents. When I see the number of people injured I think that number is closer to being correct. In traveling with the shows it is such a rare occasion to hear of someone getting hurt or killed. It is so rare that news spreads, through our carnies grapevine, across the whole country.
Of the 81 people involved 74 were injured while 7 were killed. Carnivals had 33 people injured while the other places with amusement rides had 41 injured. It was reported that two carnival workers were also injured, one was in his second week of work. Of the seven deaths two were on carnival owned rides while the other five were killed while riding at amusement park or other related places. One person injured, on a carnival, had both of her feet cut off just above the ankles. The ride was owned by an individual and not the carnival, but was booked with the show for the event where the accident took place.
This study was for only one year, 2007, but did show a some statistics that stood out. One stat was that carnivals had more reported mishaps by a margin of 17 to 16 over amusement park and other fun stationary places. That should have parlayed into more people hurt but did not.
Amusement parks had 11 more people hurt and 3 more people killed than did the carnivals. Even though the amusement parks had less accidents the outcome of their accidents were way more severe. I wondered why and came up with some exclamation that I believe are of great relevance.
Because permanent facilities are stationary they generally have larger and faster rides for the patrons to get on. The carnivals have to travel to make their money and generally do not have huge rides. Some rides traveling with carnivals, are huge and do take four and five semi trailers to haul them, but even they are not as big as the larger rides you will see in an amusement park. This extra speed an size could possibly account for a higher injury rate per accident.
It is hard to determine which takes more riders for a year, carnivals or stationary ride places. I would think that carnivals take more passengers every year because they are open for longer periods and there are many more carnivals that permanent locations. Some carnivals are open for business somewhere every week of the year. Amusement park types are generally seasonal. Pretty easy to figure out that carnivals get a way larger opportunity to take on passengers.
Because an amusement park is only seasonal so is their help on many occasions. Because carnivals travel year round, in many cases, the help is just way more experienced. I know several guys that feature rides and they really do know their stuff. On a major ride there will often be three guys that know how to completely and safely erect that major ride. There are people that have changed over from rides to other areas that can set up a multitude of rides. In amusement park setting you are not probably as apt to find a person working the corn dog stand that knows when a ride is going bad by hearing a noise it is making. You are apt, not only to find an employee in an alternate position, to find one that knows what exactly is going wrong by the sound the ride is making on a carnival lot.
I do not ever work for stationary amusement companies and do not know what their policies are. I do know that several carnivals have something, in reference to safety, on all their ride help uniforms. It becomes sort of a subliminal message. I remember on Wade Shows continually picking on ride help about their Safety First that was printed on their shirts backs. If I seen them so much as drop a hot dog I would repeat the saying, safety first. No matter how it worked, it is a steady reminder to the ride help. And the bottom line is there should not be any accidents.