How to Regulate Amusement Parks

Amusement parks are meant to be one thing: amusing. The word is in the title. And yet, far too often in this country, amusement parks have become places of injury and tragedy.

Just this summer, USA Today covered the number of amusement park and waterpark injuries and deaths, and it makes for some very upsetting reading. Just imagining those families going out to have a good afternoon and having to deal with the consequences of having fun can be quite hard, but it’s worth reading simply because this issue, minor as it may seem, is important.

The point is, parks, like many other parts of our society, are not being regulated well enough.

Again, according to USA Today, this industry has “have too few inspectors and not enough safety regulations.”

Consider what that means. These rides are often designed to defy gravity, to raise people high in the ground and drop them for a thrill. The fact they are not regularly checked to make sure they work is quite concerning. And considering how little coverage accidents get (and how quickly people forget coverage even when it does exist because of our nonstop news cycles), there’s little reason for parks to put special care into maintenance. That may mean that down the road we see more of these accidents taking place. More tragedies every summer, and we may be the next ones involved.

Sure, these parks have to deal with amusement park lawyers who will sue them for any injuries or deaths, but no matter what the payout is, it will be a pittance to what is gained through ticket sales. The only way to force these parks to do more is to boycott them whenever there is an accident.

I’d like to believe we could force more regulations on them, but this just doesn’t seem possible these days. America is in an anti-regulation period, and until the next big crisis—whether economic, medical, or other—it’s likely that will continue.

So, our options are limited, and among those limited options, the best one is a boycott as punishment for unsafe rides.

The way to make this most effective would be to convince those who are regular amusement park visitors to stay home. For those who go rarely, the task then is to work on these repeat customers and to explain their responsibilities in the situation. Should parks start seeing a major drop in ticket sales after an accident, they are far more likely to respond.

Perhaps a new website needs to be launched which keeps track of these accidents. USA Today did an admirable job this past summer, but a full-time site (or at least a Facebook page) would allow everyone to keep up to date on where accidents have taken place and what actions are being done in response.

With a little more participation from the general public, we can all hope to see safer and better-maintained rides, even if we can’t get them regulated.

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