Target: Speaker of the House John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
Goal: Improve theme park ride safety standards nationwide.
Recently, tragedy occurred at the Six Flags Over Texas theme park when a woman named Rosy Esparaza fell to her death from the Texas Giant rollercoaster. The current speculated cause of the tragedy is Esparaza’s seat not being securely fastened by ride operators, and the chain has announced the ride will be indefinitely closed while an investigation is held.
Esparaza’s tragic death, as well as the matter of how the investigation in question is being conducted, says volumes about the oversight of theme park rides in the United States. Six Flags is itself taking responsibility for fact-finding instead of an impartial local, state or federal agency handling the case. The closest thing Texas has to a body that could look into the incident independently is the state Department of Insurance, but this agency’s authority is ultimately limited to collecting yearly safety inspections and liability insurance information.
Concern over ride safety regulations is not unique to the state of Texas, but is a nationwide matter. The International Business Times notes that, according to a study by Dr. Gary Smith and other researchers at Columbus, Ohio’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital, over 4,400 children are injured on rides each year. Currently, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has the ability to regulate non-stationary carnival rides, but those that are on-site at amusement parks escape oversight. Previous attempts to do so have been fought by aggressive lobbying from the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions.
Clearly, a theme park should not be leading the investigation of a tragedy that occurred on one of its own rides. By signing this petition, you will ask Congress to streamline theme park safety oversight through authorizing the Consumer Product Safety Commission to monitor fixed-site rides.
Dear Speaker Boehner and Senator Reid,
Six Flags Over Texas was the site of a recent tragedy when Rosy Esparaza fell to her death from the park’s Texas Giant rollercoaster. Though the speculated cause of the tragedy is due to her seat not being securely fastened by ride employees, an investigation into the tragedy is currently underway.
The investigation into the tragedy, however, is not being conducted through an impartial regulatory agency, but instead by the park itself. This startling fact highlights the lack of universal oversight into theme park ride safety in the United States. Currently, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has the power to monitor traveling carnival rides, but not those in fixed-site areas such as amusement parks. Recently, Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio released a study finding that over 4,400 children are injured on rides each year. Lead researcher Dr. Gary Smith stated “a coordinated national system would help us prevent amusement ride-related injuries through better injury surveillance and more consistent enforcement of standards.” However, industry lobbying has thwarted past attempts to pass laws ensuring nationwide regulation.
I am asking you to pass a bill authorizing the Consumer Product Safety Commission to monitor fixed-site rides nationwide. This measure would, through establishing nationwide safety standards, help prevent tragedies such as the one that recently occurred in Six Flags Over Texas.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Loadmaster (David R. Tribble) via Wikimedia Commons