Thrills Pose No Threat

The Controversy Over Coasters

The Coaster Controversy:

A recent controversy has surfaced that questions how safe the roller coasters we know and love are. The argument focuses directly on G-force regulation; should we or should we not let the Government limit these thrill-seeking machines? Sure, we love their terrifying factors, the way we plummet from their dangerous heights , however due to expert design and purchase by parks, countless safety checks, warnings, and the scientific balance of their mechanics, statistics show these rides are amount the safes activities; proving the thrill carries no threat.

Understanding the Force

G-force: a unit of force equal to the force exerted by gravity; used to indicate the force to which a body is subjected when it is accelerated (google, we'd definitions). While on a roller coaster, that force that causes your body to push back in your seat, forward, up down, or sideways (the best parts of the ride)? Yes, that's G-force. Like the design of a track, the G-force of a ride is made specifically for that ride and it's riders. The designers of the track keep this in mind, knowing that size, speed, and acceleration, are all directly related to "g." They also must understand that this force is also an element of movement; so it can be felt by the body during a sharp turn or small loop. There for, if a designer wanted to make a ride taller and faster, he would simply alter turns to be longer and wider, to make up for the added momentum. "Height, speed, and g-forces can all be tamed with careful designing, not with laws imposed by the government." (The G-Force Limit Controversy) in the same article, the author states, "Roller coasters have been around for decades, growing bigger and better, yet never more dangerous. Because the theme park industry already regulates itself, through careful designing and testing, the United States government does not need to regulate the g-forces on roller coasters." Thus proving, that thorough the careful design and mechanics of every ride, all factors are monitored and balanced, in order to create these proper "thrill" sensations. Also, in a CBS News interview with Bill Powers of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, Bill states, "I met with two astronauts a few days ago, they have 8 shuttle missions between them, and when I told them what Markey said they shook their heads and laughed. The G-force issue is this: when you plop down in an easy chair, or cough, or someone pats you on the back, you are pulling the same G-force as on an amusement park ride. And while a ride lasts longer, the G-force portion is only a few seconds. In the space shuttle, you pull G's for several minutes (10-15 minutes), not the fraction of the second that a roller coaster pulls. The G-force level on a roller coaster is the same that ordinary people impose on their bodies in their everyday life." (Powers, interview). From Power's interview, the public can clearly see that these claims saying roller coasters should be monitored are not nearly as alarming as others are making them to be. We experience all types of G-force in our everyday lives; but by using expert mechanics and design, roller coasters simply harness these forces for our own safe enjoyment.

"Safety is Our Business"

"Our business is all about safety. We want people to have a good time and have a safe time so that they will come back. Parents trust us with the safety of their child and with themselves and that trust is core to our business. If people don't trust us they won't come to our parks. Safety is our business." (Powers, Interview) What these critics are failing to recognize is that amusement parks are an actual business; and like all businesses, they need to keep their costumers coming back for more. Like Powers said, "trust is the core to our business." How could these parks have been running for decades if their products were actually life-threatening? The "G-Force Limit Controversy" article states, "The amusement parks spend several weeks just testing the ride in all kinds of situations in order to make sure that their guests will remain safe. If a problem is found, the park consults with the manufacturer and redesigns the problematic areas. One notable example of this happening is with Maverick, at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. The original design was to include an element known as a “Heart-Line Roll” mid-ride, but during testing, Cedar Point found that too much stress was exerted on the trains, and the segment of track may have been uncomfortable for riders. The manufacturer, Intamin AG, promptly manufactured and replaced the section of track. The ride passed the tests, and is now open to the public.This is a perfect example of how theme parks and coaster designers collaborate to keep their customers safe. Roller coaster designers wouldn’t design deadly designs because theme parks simply wouldn’t buy them" (The G-Force Limit Controversy). This article states It clearly, saying that yes, a roller coaster's design is limitless, however, the designers and the park will simply not push the laws of science and safety, just to create a thrill.

Change One, Change the Others

Like many activities we participate in, roller coasters do have their faults. We are choosing to put our bodies through extreme speeds, heights loops, turns and drops, and not every human body is equipped to take these types of forces. Understandably, roller coaster riders have been injured in the past, very few deaths have even occurred. However, does this mean we have to change the roller coaster as we know it entirely? Absolutely not. Think of all the activities you can do once that a warm weather rolls around. Soccer, basketball, football, riding your bike. Would you be surprised to know that visiting an amusement park is among the safest of these activities? Powers says, "The CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) reports 600,000 emergency room injuries from bicycles, 200,000 from soccer, 600,000 from basketball, 80,0000 from playgrounds, and 26,700 from those foot-powered scooters, including two kids who died...320 million peoplqe visit amusement parks every year and the Consumer Product Safety Commission reports 6,500 injuries and one ride-related fatality. And the year before, we had zero fatalities. Over 95 percent of those injuries are twisted ankles, scraped knees, and sunburns." (Powers, Interview). Those who speculate that roller coasters are unsafe have yet to realize the risks we take in every day activities. Did you know that a football player, on average can be tackled with 40-50g's? (Powers, Interview). Anything can be made to look life-threatening, and any activity can come with risks. However, roller coasters are already made with the necessary precautions they require in order to provide the rider with the safest and most enjoyable experience it can. In addition, warning signs and precautions are always posted on each ride, leaving any health hazards and precautions in the rider's responsibility. The manufacturers and the riders themselves have been successful in maintaining the safest possible experience for decades to come; the government can't fix a problem that doesn't really exist more then the average backyard football game.

Undeniable Evidence Proves...

The thrilling world of coasters will always be expanding; new heights, new speeds, new loops, turns, and drops. However, what we must also remember is the direct balance between what these coasters do, and how they do it. Technology gives these coasters the ability to reach new heights, but it also provides its riders with the safest possible experience. By understanding and controlling the the coaster variables such as speed, turning distance, acceleration and weight, engineers are able to calculate the average G-force applied to its riders, and manipulate the safest possible experience. Not to mention, amusement parks will not even market a remotely dangerous coaster because their business revolves around their customers safety and satisfaction. The G-force produced by the coasters is at least calculated, monitored, and engineered all for the safety and enjoyment of the rider. The government doesn't need to monitor the G-force levels to a lower standard because unlike a handful of summer activities and sports, these levels are already calculated and controlled. The undeniable evidence states that these coasters are not only designed for thrilling enjoyment, but also for the rider's safety and comfort. Once again proving, the thrill has no threat.