It seems like fair rides are pretty dangerous and injure people often. Are they really that hazardous, or are fairs’ reputations overblown?

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Everyone’s heard the idea that fair rides are dangerous, that they’re operated by people that seem less than qualified, even that fairs are a place where you get ripped off. How much of that is actually true? If they’re so dangerous, wouldn’t they go out of business from litigation alone?

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It’s not news when someone isn’t hurt. The equipment is a little dangerous, but that’s to make it exciting. Fixed amusement parks are safer, but even they have problems. Fair rides are much more common that fixed parks, so with many more chances there are more incidents.

Remember, seeing it on the news means it doesn’t happen very often.

It may seem that way because when something traumatic occurs that is caused by something unlikely, it tends to make the news more easily. Mass shootings rarely occur, but when they do, they easily make headlines. If another smaller shooting occurs around the same time, it will also become big news.

Statistically, there are very few accidents with the rides. And, also statistically, very few rides ever have anything remotely close to an accident.

But, there is a reason for that. Their functionality and operations procedures are heavily regulated. They are inspected at regular intervals by an external accredited inspector that literally wants to see the ride pull the emergency brakes in all the places that the emergency brakes can be pulled, by simulating every possible error the ride can have and ensuring that the operational computers and PLC’s are reacting correctly to every single possible fault.

And they usually have daily and weekly inspections programs performed by the staff. With a checklist, listing everything that has to be inspected daily and weekly.

(like, say, all the inflated wheels that help the ride accelerate must every day *look* like they have the right air pressure when you stomp them with a foot and must every week actually have their air pressure checked.)

This all means that if accidents happen anyway, it’s because there was a fault that was missed at all the inspections. No-one wants to have the reputation that their rides are unsafe – it’s a death blow to the business – so everyone tries their very best to have stuff that is safe.

That said, some rides sound like they are a mess and look like they are a mess…but, still, if they pass inspections it means that they are good enough. Old shit that has worked correctly for a long time often sounds a bit cranky, without actually being any kind of unsafe. A owner who knows their stuff let’s it sound worn and torn in parts that doesn’t affect safety.