Amusement Park Ride Injuries Affect 4,400 Kids Hurt Annually: Study

As families and entertainment venues get ready for the summer season, a new report indicates that more than 4,400 children suffer an injury on amusement park rides each year.

A retrospective analysis study of the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) reveals that nearly 93,000 children under the age of 17 suffered an injury requiring emergency room treatment from an amusement park ride between 1990 and 2010.

The study, published in the May issue of Clinical Pediatrics, tracked reports spanning over 20 years coming from more than 100 hospitals across the United States, making this study the most comprehensive to date. Researchers compiled information from amusement parks, mobile carnivals, fairs, coin operated rides at arcades, malls and stores.

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Researchers found that, on average, 20 children are hurt every day at these venues. More than 70 percent of the injuries occur during peak amusement park season, which runs from May through September. That means approximately one child is injured every two hours.

A case by case review was conducted of nearly 6,000 reports, revealing injuries by roller-coasters, carnivals and children’s rides common in malls and arcades. The majority of the injuries were minor, resulting in bumps and bruises, but approximately 1.5% of children suffered an injury severe enough to require hospitalization.

Falls Most Common Type of Injury

Gary A. Smith, MD, and his team of researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, found 32% of the injuries were caused by a child falling in, on, off or against rides. Most of the injuries were soft tissue injuries. The injuries often occurred on various types of smaller rides, not just the bigger amusement park style rides.

Nearly 33% of the injuries were on a larger amusement park ride, 30% occurred on a ride at a mobile carnival, 12% on rides at malls and arcades and 25% occurred at unknown locations. The injuries which were not specified at a specific location make it difficult for researchers to have a fully accurate snapshot of where and how the injuries occur.

“An improved national system for monitoring injuries involving amusement rides is needed,” said Smith. “There are opportunities to improve the safety of amusement rides for children, especially to prevent injuries from falls.”

Researchers did find that younger children under the age of five were twice as likely to suffer concussions than older children and were more likely to be injured on smaller rides located at malls, restaurants, arcades and stores. Additionally, girls were more likely to be injured than boys, despite boys typically being more accident prone than girls.

Study authors say increased education, tracking and oversight of amusement park and other types of children’s rides is necessary. However, the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) emphasizes the majority of people are not being harmed.

More than 300 million people visit theme parks in the United States every year, many leave without incident or injury, according to the IAAPA. The group estimates the likelihood of a child being injured on an amusement park type ride is about 1 in 24 million.


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