June 22, 2007
NYT's Lede on Amusement Injuries
My sense of why people are so fascinated by injuries in amusement parks is because of the nature of the attractions: we're going there to feel that we are at risk without actually being at risk. Our hearts race and our adrenalin surges because our body believes we are in danger. This escapism -- the tendency to be carefree -- is encouraged by the parks (for good reasons). So when the perceived risk turns out to be a real risk, or when our carefree decisions turn out to cause harm to ourselves (not that that's what happened in Kentucky), it's a much bigger shock -- and gets more coverage than the proportional risk would otherwise justify -- than when someone engaging in an undeniably risky activity gets hurt.
It's not just media sensationalism, in other words. Or if it is sensationalism, it's grounded in what I think is a natural instinct among the public (and the reporters).
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The National Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that over 270 million people visit American amusement parks each year. An average of 7,000 of these people are treated in emergency rooms for injuries they sustained in amusement ride accidents.
Thats a pretty good safety record...on the surface. But I think that the numbers are unreported. And judging by how well law offices do that are situated near amusement parks...a lot of these cases settle early and fast.
You won't catch me letting my kid in one of these deathparks.
[BC comment: I'm pretty thoroughly familiar with the stats (and the lack of stats) and I bring my kids to the parks regularly. I do wish the record were better developed, but in most cases and in most parks I feel very safe.]
Posted by: Ubu Walker | Jun 22, 2007 10:55:41 AM