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Posted by on Jul 24, 2013 in Featured, Life at ODA | 0 comments

Just How Safe Is That Roller Coaster?

Just How Safe Is That Roller Coaster?

Kids are out of school and county fair season is in full swing.  It’s summer—the busiest time of the year for our division of Amusement Ride Safety, which inspects, licenses, and keeps records on nearly 3,800 attractions throughout the state of Ohio, including roller coasters, water slides, inflatable rides, and fair games.

Do you ever think twice about hopping on a roller coaster at Cedar Point or King’s Island?  Just how safe is it to ride on your average wooden roller coaster?   According to Mike Vartorella, our department’s Chief Amusement Ride Inspector and Assistant Chief of Amusement Ride Safety, it’s pretty darn safe.

Twice a year, typically in the spring and the fall, our inspectors conduct a full inspection of each ride.  This systematic and comprehensive testing, prodding, checking, and double checking of every last inch of the attraction can take up to 40-50 hours per ride.  Our inspectors will first examine the ride’s structure and foundation.  After this they conduct a track walk, where roped in, they walk the entire length of the track examining everything from the track’s gauges and steel bolting to the wheels and the bogies that keep the train secure.  After that our inspectors will put the trains onto the track and run numerous control tests and emergency stop tests.  Here, our inspectors operate the ride several times in the manner that it’s actually supposed to run, and they also go through all possible emergency scenarios to be confident that the ride is free of problems and is operating smoothly.

When the inspection passes this stage of the process, our crew takes a look at the ride’s documentation and records.  They ensure that all manufacturer requirements are up to date, and that the operators of the ridDSC_0260e are properly trained.  In the final stage of the full inspection process, our inspectors take a careful look at the environment that surrounds the ride. They check for trip hazards and proper signage, as well as objects that might be obstructing the pathway of the rollercoaster train, or the view of the ride operator.   Finally, upon checking for the ride’s insurance, maintenance sign off, and operational sign off, our inspectors will license the ride.  In addition to these comprehensive full inspections of the ride, we may also conduct supplemental and operational inspections at any time.  This is where we enter the park unannounced to look at the ride equipment and to audit the records and the operating personnel.

In order to ensure a safe and enjoyable visit to any amusement park or fair, it is important to follow all of the park’s rules.   The rules are there for a reason.  Abide by all height requirements for rides, and don’t force anybody (particularly young children) onto a ride that they don’t want to go on.  The best inspector of a ride, according to Vartorella, is you.  Thanks to our ride safety inspection crew, you can sleep easier at night knowing that your favorite amusement park ride has been checked over again and again.  The number one thing for us here is safety.

Click HERE to learn more about our division of Amusement Ride Safety.

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