The recent death of a roller coaster rider at Six Flags Over Texas may have prompted skepticism about such rides among some park patrons, but one expert says Oklahoma has one of the best inspection programs around.
Senior Ride Inspector Randy McGinnis has been examining rides for the Oklahoma Labor Department for 15 years. McGinnis said he's confident in the inspections his team has done in the state this season.
Oklahoma Amusement Ride Safety Laws require all rides to be inspected at the operating site before the season opens. All rides in the state, from major roller coasters to inflatable games, are inspected annually by the department, and they often are spot-checked again later in the summer for critical points.
Critical points include areas known for wear, such as latches, lap bars, hitches and other areas that are important to ride safety, McGinnis said.
Despite recent amusement park incidents, studies show the possibility of danger at a park is relatively low.
In the U.S., a person is at higher risk for injury playing basketball or football, or even fishing than while on rides at an amusement park, according to the National Safety Council Research & Statistical Services Group.
Injuries on fixed-site amusement rides have deceased by nearly half in the past decade, the safety group said. In 2002, 8.2 injuries per million in attendances at amusement parks were reported. In 2011, it was down to 4.2 injuries per million, according to the council research.