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Six Flags Death Raises Questions of Regulation

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Some people are fearless on roller coasters and other thrill rides. Some are certainly not. It’s not a matter of fear, actually. If they were afraid, they wouldn’t get on. Most are probably too old to have any issues with peer pressure.

The trouble is, you can think about the whole thing way too much. If you look at the safety restraints, and figure out quickly what the weakest link in the chain is. Sometimes it is a lap bar that you just don’t trust. Sometimes it is a latch about the size of a doorknob bolt. Then you factor in gravity, speed, height, g-forces coming around curves. It may not even be the upside-down stuff that bothers some folks. It may be the curves at great height and speed.

But there is another factor. In some of these places, your life is in the hands of a minimum-trained, minimum-wage worker, some of whom wouldn’t even understand if you yelled, “Stop!” in English.

Back in 2007, a girl’s feet were severed by a cable on a ride at a Six Flags in Kentucky. That park is now closed – though rumored to be reopening.

CNN reports that some people at the federal level are starting to take notice of all this in the wake of the recent roller coaster death at Six Flags over Texas.

“While the cause of this tragic accident is still unknown, one thing is clear: Roller coasters that hurtle riders at extreme speeds along precipitous drops should not be exempt from federal safety oversight,” Sen. Edward Markey of Massachusetts, said Monday. “A baby stroller is subject to tougher federal regulation than a roller coaster carrying a child in excess of 100 miles per hour. This is a mistake.”

This whole line of discussion is likely to prompt “big government” arguments. And some say we should have those conversations. Maybe roller coasters aren’t something that should have federal inspection oversight. But they say we won’t know that until we talk this through.

Six Flags Death Raises Questions of Regulation
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