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Are Roller Coasters Safe? (http://www.readworks.org/)

Are Roller Coasters Safe?


Zooming down a hill, you feel the wind rushing in your face.

Seconds later, you are hanging upside down! You are riding a

roller coaster. But are you safe?

New roller coasters are getting bigger, faster, and scarier. Millions of

kids and adults take these thrill rides each year. Some experts1

worry that the rides' sudden twists and turns are unsafe.

High-speed coasters whip riders' heads back and forth. One report

blamed coasters for 13 brain injuries from 1995 to 2000. Another

report says some people have nearly died from coaster-related brain

injuries.


A Safety Study


Recently, two scientists set out to learn if coasters really do cause

brain injuries. They studied the effects of riding three of the fastest

coasters in the United States. The scientists say the coasters' twists

and turns are not fast enough to cause brain injuries.

"People take more than 1 billion rides on roller coasters each year.

The reports on brain injury are few and not proven," said Douglas

Smith. He is one of the scientists who did the new study.


Coasters and Kids


Some experts do not think the new study proves coasters are safe--

especially for kids. They say the scientists studied only how coasters

affect adults, not kids. They want a new study.

Edward Markey is a government official. Recently, he asked a group of

experts to include children in their next study about roller coaster

safety. Results from that study will be reported next year. Roller

coasters have to be studied to make sure that "riders of all ages" are

safe, Markey said.


Roller Coaster Fun Facts

• The idea for the roller coaster began with the ice

slide. It was invented in Russia more than 500 years

ago.

• There are more than 1,400 roller coasters in the

world today.

• The fastest roller coaster in the world is in Japan. It

speeds down a track at more than 100 miles per hour.