In light of recent events with “the Smiler” at Alton Towers – and the inevitable 24/7 news coverage about it, it’s good to have some perspective on events like it.
So, before you start clicking on those “roller coaster accident” click-bait links, or go off on social media, spouting that, “…all rides are unsafe and you’ll never go on one again” (liar), here’s some “odds of” over your lifetime that should bring you some perspective:
The odds of dying on a roller coaster as a result or either neglect or act of God are approximately 1 in 300,000,000. That’s 300 MILLION for those who stopped counting zeroes. This is according to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission. Also…
The odds of being killed in a car crash in the United States: 1 in 470
The odds of being killed by lightning: 1 in 164,968
The odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot: 1 in 259,000,000
The odds of bowling a perfect game in bowling: 1 in 11,500
The odds of marrying a supermodel: 1 in 880,000
The odds of being killed by a shark: 1 in 300,000,000
The odds of drowning in a pool: 1 in 567
The odds of being killed by a terrorist: 1 in 20,000,000
The bottom line: you should be fearing those numbnuts in ISIS, planning how to spend all that lottery jackpot money or discussing how you’ll spend your honeymoon with Kate Upton or Gabriela Fernandes before you EVER think twice about jumping on your favorite roller coaster.
SIDE BAR: Kate or Gabriela, you’re welcome to join me on ANY coaster, ANYtime!
It’s only natural to want to try and speculate on what exactly happened last Friday night at Six Flags Over Texas. I’ve even caught myself doing it on occasion to friends or co-workers, who have asked me about the unfolding situation.
But that doesn’t mean it’s right.
With inaccurate eyewitness reports, the urge to find out as much information as possible before anyone else has it – we as humans tend to want to fill in the facts when there’s an unknown. The speculation had already begun today, as well as recommendations for change, despite not even knowing what exactly occurred.
People were already getting in front of the media, illustrating, “…where she fell out,” and were even calling for “Over the Shoulder Restraints” or OTSR on more rides, as if they would have clearly prevented this accident from occurring. All of this was being done without any formal information on what exactly happened.
Speculation can only lead us as a society to a skewed, unwarranted perception of the event. Currently, that misconception is: “…because someone died on a roller coaster – ALL OF THEM must be dangerous!”
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The truth is this, folks: You’re more likely to be hurt riding an ESCALATOR at the mall than you are on a looping roller coaster. Parks don’t want accidents – they want you to feel safe. It’s very much a “self-policing” industry. Gone are the days of the Roaring 20’s, where rides that killed became MORE popular.
While we live in an age of instant communication, instant answers – this is one event that we must wait for. Only time will tell what happens next in this investigation – but can’t we all just give this investigation just that, a little TIME?
An unprecedented two major news-making events took place at two separate amusement parks in the U.S. within minutes of each other on Friday, bringing up the inevitable media hype over ride safety.
At Six Flags Over Texas and Cedar Point, two major incidents occurred that have splashed across the media.
In the wake of yesterday’s tragic event and subsequent investigation at Six Flags Over Texas, Iron Rattler at Six Flags Fiesta Texas has been closed as a precautionary measure, according to a park representative. The ride features the same style of “Iron Horse” track as the Texas Giant and same train manufacturer, Gerstlauer of Germany.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone involved in today’s tragic events.
When reporting news, there’s always the possibility of reporting inaccurate information. When the story is breaking, that risk is even bigger. These stories are no different.
One of the more glaring items that stands out to me is from the The Dallas Morning News. They reported that eyewitness, Carmen Brown, who was in the loading station of the Texas Giant, “…said the woman had expressed concern to a park employee that she was not secured correctly in her seat.”
“He (the ride attendant) was basically nonchalant,” Brown said. “He was, like, ‘As long as you heard it click, you’re fine.’ Hers was the only one that went down once, and she didn’t feel safe. But they let her still get on the ride.”
Here’s the problem – the Texas Giant doesn’t use “clicking” restraints. In fact, according to Gerstlauer, the manufacturer of the trains for the Texas Giant, “The cars feature four self-restraining seats with T-shaped lapbars.” It continues, “The use of redundant hydraulic cylinders ensures that each lap bar can be infinitely adjusted and offers maximum security.” in other words, these restraints come down in silence.
As I was just out at Six Flags Over Texas about five weeks ago, I can attest to this fact. The Texas Giant also features an electronic indicator light on each train, (one for each restraint) which alerts operators if a restraint is too high for safety. The light turns from red to green.
It should not be lost on anyone, but you should know – your odds are far greater of being injured DRIVING to your local amusement park then they are INSIDE your local amusement park. In addition, if you do not feel confident in a ride – you always, ALWAYS have the choice of simply asking to be let out.