Bronson Urges Caution On Fair Rides

September 29, 2010

TALLAHASSEE – Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles H. Bronson is urging consumers to heed safety rules on fair rides now that the fall fair season is approaching. The majority of fair ride accidents are caused by patron error and many injuries can be avoided by following the rules posted at the ride locations.

The Department’s Bureau of Fair Ride Inspections is responsible for inspecting amusement rides at temporary events (fairs, carnivals and festivals) and permanent amusement facilities (go-kart parks and water parks) for structural and operational integrity. All traveling amusement rides receive permits on an annual basis but in addition, each amusement ride must be inspected every time it is set up and must pass inspection prior to being open to the public. Rides at most permanent amusement facilities are inspected and permitted twice each year. Florida has about 211 permanent amusement parks and more than 167 traveling amusement companies. The Department’s 15 ride inspectors performed over 9,500 amusement ride inspections in Florida last year.

Statistics show that historically, reported accidents were the result of patron error about 92 % of the time. The remaining 8 % were attributable to mechanical or operational problems, or the cause was undetermined. In addition, since 1997, the number of rides that failed the Bureau’s first inspection has dropped from approximately 60% to about 44%. Bronson believes the ride owners and operators are doing a better job of assembling, inspecting and maintaining the rides as a result of the stringent inspection requirements and scrutiny of the Department’s inspection program.

“Florida has one of the strictest fair ride safety programs in the nation,” Bronson said. “Our inspectors work hard to ensure the rides are erected properly and the equipment is in good working order but riders also need to be responsible and follow the rules and regulations to prevent accidents.”

Ride patrons should always observe cautionary instructions and consider physical limitations when riding any amusement ride. They should also pay special attention to size or age restrictions for children to ride on certain rides.

Ride inspectors receive refresher training at least twice each year to keep up to date on the latest inspection techniques, manufacturers’ bulletins and safety alerts. Department inspectors utilize laptop computers in the field as a resource to verify ride information on expiration of permits and insurance and inspection history. They use a comprehensive 26 point checklist to inspect carnival rides from top to bottom to ensure maximum public safety.

Fairs in Florida traditionally kick off during the fall season, and Bronson says now is the time to educate the public about the need to follow the safety rules. For more information about fair ride inspections, log on to the Division of Standard’s website at www.doacs.state.fl.us/standard/fairs/

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