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Amusement rides' height & weight requirements too low for child safety

Chad Points
Board Certified Personal Injury Trial Lawyer, One of Founding Partners, Denena & Points, PC

Posted on Jun 27, 2012

It's the season for summer fun once again. Our amusement ride injury lawyers realize that you and your family may be planning summer trips to amusement parks and water parks. You might intend to let your children enjoy riding the amusement park rides for those acceleration induced thrills and chills while you enjoy a break in the shade.

 

Like many other parents, you might believe that so long as you observe the posted rules and regulations, and follow the rides' minimum height and weight guidelines, your child will be safe. You may not realize that those height and weight requirements do not represent any actual assurance of a child's safety on the ride.

 

Our amusement ride injury lawyers point out that the minimum height and the rides' manufacturers rather randomly set weight requirements. And amusement parks and carnivals sometimes adjust those suggested requirements to be more in line with their own venue-wide requirements. Industry competition has caused many manufacturers and amusement venues to lower those height and weight requirements over time in order to draw more riders.

 

No federal child safety rules govern amusement park ride design or height requirements

 

In contrast to other products designed for children's usage (like child car safety seats for instance, there exist no mandatory or even voluntary safety standards to govern an amusement ride's safety for a child rider. We've written about this gap in child safety before. We reiterate that most manufacturers want to design a safe ride in order to avoid the possibility of lawsuits and liability from injuries. But the average amusement rides are designed for teens and adults. What you may think of as "kiddie rides" are a separate line, and shunned by most children over the age of 5.

 

Amusement rides designed for riders of all ages that meet the height and weight requirements contain certain safety compromises. Because these rides for the masses must be safe for most of the people most of the time, they aren't particularly safe for the very small or young rider. Our amusement ride injury lawyers emphasize that young children suffer a disproportionate number of injuries from the amusement ride designed for the masses.

 

A lap bar's restraint will set to accommodate the largest person on a row. Young or small children might feel little or no restraint from the lap bar and slip around or even out of the ride in motion. Shoulder restraint harnesses might not properly fit the child rider. And rides relying on centrifugal force might send larger and heavier patrons crushing against smaller, fragile child riders.

 

And some children, who think a ride looks exciting from the ground, may not be able to cope with the speed and excitement of the ride. Sometimes they try to exit the ride in motion and harm themselves in the attempt. Your own sense of your child's emotional maturity and ability to cope with frightening rides might be a far better indicator than a minimum height requirement as to whether you child is ready to ride a particular ride.

 

Parents, you're still the best guardian of your children's safety on amusement park rides

 

Always observe a ride in motion to see whether you think it's safe before you let your child enter the ride. And always ride the rides with your young children, even though they meet the minimum height and weight requirements. Ride designers, in creating their rides for all ages, rely in part on parents' traditional role restraining their children on amusement rides. As a sad and cautionary tale, read our amusement ride injury lawyers' linked article about the serious injuries sustained by a frightened young girl, riding without parental supervision on a Houston Carnival ride, when she tried to exit the ride in motion.

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