header - blue ribbon panel - brain injury association of america logo

image - tabsclick here for give todayclick here for links and resourcesclick here for survivors voiceclick here for researchclick here for news roomclick here for kids and parentsclick here for prevention and educationclick here for publicationsclick here for conferences and eventsclick here for professionalsclick here for government relationsclick here for state affiliatesclick here for treatment and rehabilitationclick here for what is brain injury?click here for who are we?click here for home

header - blue ribbon panel review of the correlation between brain injury and roller coaster rides - final report

February 25, 2003    -    Brain Injury Association of America, www.biausa.org, (703) 761-0750
This research was funded in part by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

Click here for the pdf version of the Blue Ribbon Panel Report image - pdf icon

If you don't have Acrobat Reader, you can download it for free by clicking on the icon below.

click here to get Acrobat Reader    


click here to go back to the blue ribbon panel home page
Index
image -yellow line
  Executive Summary   Recommendations
  Introduction   Kinematics
  Rider Response   Measurement of Acceleration
  Data Conditioning   Amusement Ride Acceleration Links
  Everday Life Accelerations   Relevant Standards Governing Amusement Rides
  Safety Record   Commitment to Safety
  References   Tables & Appendices



Executive Summary
image -yellow line

Findings
  1. There is evidence that roller coaster rides pose a health risk to some people some of the time. Equally evident is that the overwhelming majority of riders will suffer no ill effects. Most major categories of at risk populations such as pregnant women or persons with heart conditions, epilepsy, back or neck injury or prior orthopedic surgery, among others, are already warned against riding. People of small stature are usually excluded. Thus, there is risk, but effort is made to warn those at risk to prevent injury.

  2. No systematically acquired comprehensive database, longitudinal history or natural history data was available. The Panel reviewed cases with reported brain injury alleged to be associated with roller coaster riding. These were found to include 50 cases where cerebrovascular events occurred due to a combination of force and occult vascular predisposition.

  3. The committee has questions about the methodology of existing measurements of two significant variables on roller coasters as they relate to occupant acceleration: linear and angular accelerations and their duration. Location and type of accelerometers were found to be less than ideal and not as directly relevant to the linear and rotational accelerations of the head as desired. However, improvements in precision and relevance probably would not result in accelerometer findings of more than a 20% difference from those already obtained.

  4. The accelerations experienced by roller coaster riders are far below those tolerated by healthy subjects in experimental testing. The highest advertised roller coaster acceleration levels are 6 g’s for 1 second, although instrumented testing suggests a lower maximum of 4.5 g’s for 0.5 seconds. In comparison, significant research has been done on healthy individuals regarding the level of sustained acceleration at which blackout can occur and the lowest reported threshold is 5.5 g’s over a period of 5 seconds. Animal and other experimental research regarding serious brain injury suggest a much higher threshold (35 g’s or more); however, it is not clear how this threshold applies to the healthy, human population.

  5. The conclusion supported to date is that the risk of brain injury from a roller coaster is not in the rides, but in the riders. That is, there are some people we already know should not participate in roller coaster rides. The six fatalities reviewed were in a shared, logical, but infrequent risk group that could not be established before the fact.

click here to return to index
Recommendations
image -yellow line
  1. The amusement park industry is rigorously self-monitored and individual roller coaster rides are designed with multiple “fail-safe” features to control risk. Whether their motivations are selfish or responsible, the industries’ commercial health is best served by preventing injury. Whether a federal agency could match this is unlikely.

  2. Potentially interesting future research would include the collection of more detailed information that could facilitate risk factor and risk group analysis, information related to high frequency riders, individuals with previous/remote history of brain injury/other neurological events, and others yet to be defined.

  3. Surveillance methodology through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC) could be developed in order to monitor and track roller coaster associated, injury-related complaints.

  4. Riders are encouraged to use common sense. If your neck hurts, you have been diagnosed with a medical or neurological illness, have had recent surgery or if there has been an abrupt change in your physical status or any other unusual or unexplained symptoms, skip the ride.

  5. Even with the above considerations, for purposes of improved public information and education, the establishment of a nationwide oversight agency could be developed to assure that the amusement park industry continues to abide by it’s own self-imposed safety standards in a consistent manner. In this regard, something along the lines of a Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Organizations (JCAHO) model is more promising than an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)-like model.

“Amusement Parks are limited experiences whose attraction lies in the immediate physical gratification of the thrill ride- the exhilaration of speed, the push and pull of gravity, the rush of adrenalin and the illusion of potential bodily harm.”

- Margaret S. King, Ph.D. writing in The Encyclopedia of U.S. Popular Culture

click here to return to index
Introduction
image -yellow line

In the Fall of 2001, U.S. Representatives Edward Markey (D-MA) and Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ), along with 12 additional Members of Congress requested that the Brain Injury Association of America review the most current information on the safety of amusement park rides, mainly roller coasters, as there were concerns by constituents on their safety vis-à-vis acquired neurological traumas. A panel was assembled consisting of scientists in the fields of biomechanical engineering, epidemiology, clinical medicine, basic neuroscience, and neurotraumatology as well as a representative of the amusement park industry who had extensive experience in the design and operation of roller coasters. Beginning in July 2002, a series of biweekly telephone conferences were held to evaluate and review the existing scientific and industry data in this area and to critically analyze the scientific merit of these. This activity culminated in a meeting convened over a three-day period in Alexandria, Virginia in November 2002 to finalize the conclusions and develop a series of recommendations based upon a dispassionate, objective review of all relevant materials.

Amusement Rides

The human body is a wonderfully sophisticated biomechanical system with:
  1. A sophisticated accelerometer system in the head that senses motion and responds to it. This is called the vestibular system and it resides in the inner ear. It has 3 bilateral semicircular canals that sense angular acceleration and bilateral otoliths that sense translational motion and can determine completely the motion of the head.

  2. Position sensors in all of the limb muscles, called proprioceptors that give information about the location of all limbs. (You know what position your arms and legs are in without looking at them.) Together with the vestibular system and its accelerometers, these sensors can give the brain complete information about the motion of the entire body.

  3. Force sensors in the muscles called Golgi tendons. These sensors are actually telling the brain how hard the muscles are pulling (muscles can only pull).

  4. Tactile sensors all over the skin to detect the presence of forces.

  5. Sophisticated vision system and sound receptors.

  6. A powerful central processing unit (the brain) that interprets all of these inputs and directs the muscles to react.

Amusement rides utilize these biomechanical systems and equally important “the human perception” to entertain and thrill. Ride designers pay particular attention to perception and create an illusion of danger. People ride roller coasters not only for the visceral effects, but also for the perceived “death defying thrills”.

A successful roller coaster gives riders the feeling they are in peril, but deep down they know they are safe.

click here to return to index
Kinematics
image -yellow line

The kinematics of a loaded roller coaster moving along a path we know a priori can best be described in terms of path variables. The instantaneous acceleration vector of the center of gravity of the vehicle, at any point in time, consists of two components: one component in a direction tangent to the path and a second component (in the osculating plane) at right angles to the path and pointing toward its center of curvature. The tangential component is the rate of change of the tangential velocity while the normal component is the square of the speed divided by the radius of curvature as given in Shames (1996). As the roller coaster moves along its prescribed path, it is very important to note that an acceleration vector is always present and its components change continuously as a function of time. Thus, by virtue of Newton’s second law of motion, forces will always be acting on the roller coaster as well as on its occupants.

A potential association between ground acceleration of a vehicle and occupant head injury has been recognized for a long time. The acceleration pulse required to cause physiological dysfunction of the brain of primates has been known since the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. The paper by Domer et al. (1979) showed an acute change in the function of the blood-brain barrier of rhesus monkeys subsequent to whiplash trauma. Similarly traumatized rhesus monkeys were shown by Liu et al. (1984) to result in subcortical electroencephalogographic (EEG) changes in the limbic system of the brain. The linear and angular accelerations producing these physiological dysfunctions can be theoretically scaled from the rhesus brain to the human brain. Because the rhesus brain is smaller than the human one, the human brain can withstand a lesser acceleration pulse. The only in vivo human dysfunctional data is from studies of human volunteers exposed to whole body accelerations in a centrifuge, Whinnery & Whinnery (1990). Data from these studies were used to set limits for accelerations that are applied to humans over several seconds in duration.

Having the acceleration of the center of gravity of the loaded roller coaster, we must now describe its motion about the center of gravity. Without belaboring its mathematical complexities, we can simply state that the motion about the center of gravity can be described by three angles: roll, pitch and yaw. Stated non-rigorously, the moment of the forces acting on the roller coaster is proportional to its angular acceleration. The proportionality constant is the mass moment of inertia matrix of the loaded roller coaster.

click here to return to index
Rider Response
image -yellow line

Given the general nature of amusement rides it is clear that a human rider does not exactly follow the motion of the vehicle. The human body represents a “viscoelastic mass” and dampens many of the higher frequency accelerations. Generally, acceleration measurements made on the riders are less that those made on the ride with some exceptions, e.g., the body’s unique muscular system reacts to sustained forces and can sometimes increase or amplify certain motions. If a roller coaster is in a left turn and the passengers have fully responded to this turn, i.e., their neck muscles are holding their head up straight resisting the lateral force, if the roller coaster suddenly enters a right turn and the muscles may still be trained in the opposite direction and may actually accelerate the head instead of righting it. This phenomenon is sometimes referred to as “neuromuscular addition” and ride designers strive to minimize it to minimize the potential for neck strains.

Therefore, neuropsychologists and biomechanical engineers, who understand the response of the conscious human body to various types of motion, must analyze the resulting accelerometer test data. These specialists analyze the accelerometer data understanding that the human body is a viscoelastic mass and that certain short duration impact accelerations are absorbed or reduced by this viscoelastic mass while others are not.

click here to return to index
Measurement of Acceleration on Amusement Park Rides
image -yellow line

Accelerometers

Typically, a 3-axes accelerometer is used to measure the acceleration on amusement rides. Accelerometer measurements are made during a normal operating cycle with accelerometer placement and vehicle loading in accordance with the American Society for Testing and Materials standard, ASTM F 2137-01, “Measuring the Dynamic Characteristics of Amusement Rides and Devices.” This standard includes:
  • Accelerometer characteristics and calibration requirements
  • Data storage and fidelity
  • Accelerometer location and placement
  • Testing procedures, including required passenger loading and warm up times to achieve consistent data (especially important to coasters)
  • Instructions as to pertinent test conditions that must be documented, e.g. temperature, date, time, etc.

A separate ASTM standard, Z9591Z “Standard Practice for the Design of Amusement Rides and Device,” establishes acceleration limits for amusement rides. (This standard is discussed later herein and in the Relevant Standards section of this report.)

Crash Test Dummies

Typically, crash test dummies, such as the Hybrid III dummy, are not used for accelerometer testing of amusement rides. This procedure has been studied and debated for many years by biomechanical engineers who are familiar with amusement rides and have worked in the industry. The consensus of opinion of these experts is that crash test dummies are appropriate in automobile crash testing where they are subjected to high level impact loads, but that they are not appropriate for measuring the sustained type acceleration events of amusement rides. In short, for sustained acceleration events seen on roller coasters, the crash test dummy does not closely mimic the voluntary responses of the human rider.

Human Test Riders

Accelerometers attached to a human rider have been used in special circumstances, but because of differences in the way humans respond to changing forces, it is difficult to achieve repeatability and consistency from multiple tests or run to run.

Standardized Test

It is for the above reason that the new ASTM F 2137-01 defines a standardized practice for acquisition of data related to the dynamic forces of amusement rides with the accelerometers mounted at a specific point in the passenger compartment. This point is defined by ASTM F 2137-01 for both adults’ and children’s rides and is relative to the rider position during the ride cycle.

click here to return to index
Data Conditioning
image -yellow line

Vibration

Vibrations, which are accelerations that oscillate rapidly relative to the overall motion, also are modified by the body and may be partially absorbed. The body’s tactile sensors may detect these “high frequency” vibrations, but overall motion of the body due to them is minimal. Most people have experienced high frequency vibrations that do not appreciably alter the overall motion. Examples include an out of balance tire on an automobile or that pesky caster on the shopping cart.

Vibrations that persist for long periods of time can be bothersome to humans, not from the standpoint of injury, but rather from fatigue. The body of knowledge for this type of “whole body vibration” and the resulting “fatigue reduced proficiency” is covered in the International Standard, ISO 2631. Its primary use is for long-term exposure to various occupational vibrations (heavy equipment operators, truck drivers). Amusement ride cycles are rarely long enough for vibration-induced fatigue to be a factor.

Noise Filtering

Test engineers may employ filters to remove extraneous vibration and noise from the test data in order to see more of the overall movement of the amusement ride. This is normally done electronically on the digitally stored data, but also can be done directly on the accelerometer signal. The disadvantage of the latter being that some frequency related analysis may not be possible after the filtered data is stored. For this reason, the standard filtering method is electronic and ranges from 5 Hz to 100 Hz depending on the specific analysis being made. For purposes of evaluating amusement rides relative to a standard acceleration limit, ASTM standard Z9591Z specifies 5 Hz, but different types of analyses are routinely made at other filter rates.

click here to return to index
Amusement Ride Acceleration Limits
image -yellow line

Background

ASTM Z9591Z “Standard Practice for the Design of Amusement Rides and Devices,” establishes design acceleration limits for roller coasters and most other amusement rides. The ASTM technical committee that developed these limits included the expertise of:
  • Aerospace Medicine
  • Biomechanical Engineering
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Neuropsychology
  • Amusement Ride Engineering
  • Amusement Ride Manufacturers
  • International Standards Organizations (TUV, CEN, Russian Standards)

This standard also drew from the important criteria, information and findings of other standards such as the “Central European Norm,” which was developed over the last 10 years by the European Union.

Acceleration Limits

Three acceleration axes and directions, +X, -X, +Y, -Y, +Z and –Z, are considered in the ASTM standard, including combinations of accelerations. The ASTM standard vernacular, borrowed from the U.S. Navy, is as follows:

click here to view larger version of graph
click on graph to view larger version


The term “eyes in” for forward acceleration simply means that the eyes are tending to be forced further back in your head by the acceleration. Eyes down for upward acceleration simply means that your eyes would tend to be forced further down by the acceleration. As one can see from the vernacular, the response of the rider is really opposite to the direction of the acceleration. For example, entering a loop on a roller coaster results in +Z acceleration, where your eyes (and the rest of your body for that matter) are forced downward.

The ASTM acceleration limits include a “time duration element”. As the duration of the acceleration increases, the acceleration limit decreases. This is due to the fact that: a) blood flow in the body is time dependent and it takes a few seconds for the blood to be reduced or increased in the head and b) fatigue can become a factor. Riders can brace themselves just fine for a few seconds and it takes a few seconds to become faint, but for longer periods of time, feeling faint or fatiguing of neck or other muscles may occur.

The ASTM standard also addresses other limits:

  1. Limitations on reversals to minimize the additive effects of muscular responses (neuromuscular addition).

  2. Restrictions in transitions from weightlessness to high positive accelerations. This is to allow the body to regain postural control and to allow the heart time to recover if the weightlessness was of any significant duration.

  3. Limitations in how accelerations from more than one axis can be combined, i.e., the maximum acceleration limits from two axes are not allowed at the same time.

(See Appendix A for a complete version of the ASTM acceleration limits.)

Acceleration of Common Amusement Rides

The following chart is a summary of some of the more common, generic amusement rides and their approximate peak acceleration levels. Note that the +Gz levels are inclusive of gravity.

click here to view larger version of graph
click on graph to view larger version


click here to return to index
Everyday Life Accelerations
image -yellow line

Several researchers have examined the head acceleration values resulting from everyday activities. While the results of such studies have yielded some surprisingly high numbers, it is important to note that maximum or average acceleration alone is a poor index of the injury potential of a particular activity. For example, simply striking oneself in the head with the heel of the hand can produce as much as 10 g’s of maximum acceleration for a short time, but has little injury potential. Conversely, occupants in experimental rear impact motor vehicle collisions report minor symptoms of neck strain with head acceleration of only 2-3 g’s (Siegmund et al. 1997).

There are several reasons for this disparity: the duration of the acceleration must be taken into account (the hand strike example produces only a few milliseconds of acceleration pulse, whereas the experimental crashes produce approximately 100 milliseconds of peak acceleration). Additionally, the differential acceleration produced by the activity must be considered. In other words, activities in which the entire body is accelerated as one unit will not produce injury at the same rate as other activities that result in a difference between torso and head acceleration. For example, a sneeze has been reported by Allen et al. (1994) to produce as much as 2.9 g’s of peak head acceleration. The head acceleration results solely from the muscular contraction of the sneezer and has relatively minimal injury potential because the braced sneezer is prepared for the sudden head movement. In contrast, the unprepared occupant in a rear impact motor vehicle collision has a higher injury potential because he or she is not causing or bracing for the acceleration, and the impact with the seatback results in a difference in acceleration between the head and torso. The same principles are applicable to the evaluation of roller coaster rides. Peak head acceleration may yield less useful information than knowing the duration, direction(s) and both the linear and angular components of this head acceleration.

click here to return to index
Relevant Standards Governing Amusement Rides
image -yellow line

ASTM International

The nationally recognized standards for amusement rides are the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards. ASTM was organized in 1898 and provides a management/administrative system for the development of voluntary, consensus standards. The technical committee on amusement rides safety standards (ASTM F-24) was established in 1978 and is presently made up of almost 400 individuals including manufacturers (20%), operators (35%) and general interest (45%). This committee develops new standards on an ongoing and as needed basis. Existing standards also are reviewed and updated every two years. As with most standards in the United States, ASTM standards become mandatory when cited in a contractual agreement or when referenced and mandated by a governmental body.

The ASTM standards for amusement rides actually consist of 14 separate standards covering issues such as design, operations, maintenance, quality control and testing. States typically adopt the ASTM standards making them law in that state and as more states adopt the same standards, they become the national standard. (See sections on State Regulations and Local Standards and Regulations.)

Acceleration limits for amusement rides are included in the ASTM standard Z9591Z “Standard Practice for the Design of Amusement Rides and Devices.” (The specific section of this standard that outlines acceleration limits is given in the Appendix A.)

The establishment of acceleration limits in amusement ride standards is relatively new (Europe first published acceleration limits in 1997), but designers and engineers have designed rides with purposely-limited accelerations for many years. The body of technical information available to designers and engineers includes general engineering principles, physical laws and commonly accepted acceleration limits. These acceleration limits, which are also the basis of the ASTM standard, are the outgrowth of 50 years of governmental research, university research, aerospace medicine and the work of other standards organizations around the world.

Engineering Standards

Roller coaster designers and engineers have backgrounds and training in various engineering disciplines. They are typically registered professional engineers with mechanical, civil, electrical and biodynamic engineering experience.

Because roller coasters are complex machines with exacting mechanical/structural requirements, they are designed using commonly accepted engineering practices and standards, the same standards that are used for designing aircraft, automobiles, bridges, skyscrapers, etc. Some of the standards that are referenced and required by the ASTM Z9591Z ‘Standard Practice for the Design of Amusement Rides and Devices” are detailed in Appendix B.

State Regulations

Most states that have amusement rides operating within their jurisdiction have enacted legislation that regulates their use. The ASTM standards are often adopted by the state and therefore become law in that state. According to the CPSC, approximately 42 states, which includes almost all states with fixed site amusement rides, have amusement ride regulations. Compliance in these states is typically monitored through the use of state ride inspectors and/or insurance inspectors.

Local Standards and Regulations

A fixed-site amusement ride must comply with local building codes before it can be constructed or operated. These codes include Building Officials Code Administrators International (BOCA), Uniform Building Code (UBC), Southern Building Code Congress International (SBCCI), National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Life Safety Code, National Electrical Code (NEC) and others. The codes cover structural, mechanical, electrical and general occupancy/use standards and requirements. Compliance is monitored and checked by building and safety officials having jurisdiction.

Industry Self Policing

The U.S. amusement industry is more than a century old. It is an industry in which safety is not only a moral obligation, but also a prerequisite to doing business for without a safe environment, the industry would not exist. It is for these reasons that the industry has developed extensive and sophisticated systems of checks to insure the safety of their facilities. Amusement rides are designed, built, maintained and operated to exacting requirements. The common philosophy that runs through the industry is that “an amusement ride must be designed, constructed, installed, maintained and operated properly in order to consistently attract visitors;” thus, redundant and fail-safe designs are the norm for amusement rides.

The following steps are of paramount importance because they are recognized as crucial elements to the survival of the industry:

Several industry groups conduct extensive technical training and continuing education programs for park operating personnel. For example:
  • The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) sponsors safety seminars and workshops at convenient locations around the world and at the annual convention and trade show. In these seminars and workshops, the latest advances, standards and techniques are shared and discussed. IAAPA also produces safety training videos and other training materials that are used extensively by amusement park operators to train their staff. A major element of the IAAPA business plan is to keep its members abreast of new developments and foster communication between its member facilities.
  • The National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials (NAARSO) has strict certification requirements for Certified Ride Inspectors. NAARSO conducts training and certification programs that enable qualified individuals to become certified amusement ride inspectors. This program includes training, testing and a continuing education program in a three-tier certification program.
  • The Amusement Industry Manufacturers & Suppliers International (AIMS) conducts annual safety seminars and supplies expert speakers at industry functions. The AIMS Safety Seminar focuses on safety issues, technical training, new technology, maintenance and operations. AIMS also conducts an operations and maintenance certification programs at their annual safety seminars where candidates are tested on their knowledge in these areas. This program provides a formal system for certifying operating and maintenance staff through specific training and testing plans.
  • Individual ride manufacturers and suppliers develop extensive operating and maintenance manuals for their equipment. These manuals include familiarization, orientation and training programs that buyers/operators may use to train their personnel. Many ride manufacturers also conduct on-site training programs specific to their equipment.
  • Individual parks also utilize in-house developed and/or standardized training programs for their staff. These programs are designed to enhance worker knowledge and expertise by focusing on safety, reliability and preventative maintenance. Most in house programs include formal training and hands on experience under the supervision of experienced technicians.
  • Common throughout the industry is a system whereby amusement rides are systematically inspected and checked by multiple work groups or disciplines. Checklists for daily, weekly, monthly and yearly inspections are common for most amusement rides.

Amusement Park Attendance

The U.S. amusement park community is comprised of approximately 450 parks. These parks range in size from major destination attractions with 15 million visitors per year to family owned parks with as little as 100,000 visitors per year. Total attendance (visitors) is estimated by several independent economic research and planning firms. In addition, Amusement Business, which is an amusement industry newspaper, tracks the attendance of the top 50 parks each year using proprietary sources including reported attendance, surveys and other measures. (The attendance in just these 50 parks was 174 million in 2001.) An outline of these statistics is listed in Table 1.

Common Misconceptions about Amusement Ride Accelerations

Misconception #1 - Ride designers have had a free reign, as there are no acceleration limits.

Actually, there are published limits. The European Committee for Standardization (CEN) and the Technical Inspection Association (TUV) are European standards organizations that have published acceleration limits and the new ASTM standard Z9591Z “Standard Practice for the Design of Amusement Rides and Devices includes acceleration limits. These standards were based on many years of research, aerospace medicine and the work of standards organizations around the world.

Amusement rides are designed, analyzed, reviewed and approved by professional engineers the same as any structure in the United States and these professionals have always been conscious of acceleration effects through their education, training and experience. Today the design process for an amusement ride is an exacting process using computer aids and analysis techniques for developing and analyzing ride dynamics; nothing is taken for granted. Acceleration levels and other loads are well defined and analyzed before the ride is even built.

Misconception #2 - Rides today are higher and faster than ever, and the accelerations are getting out of hand.

It is erroneous to believe that speed and height are the only attributes that determine acceleration levels on a roller coaster. Actually, the overall design of the roller coaster, i.e., the hills, valleys, curves, radius of curvature and speed determine the acceleration. Designers control all of these elements to produce a taller-faster roller coaster with the same or lower accelerations than older rides. For example, a roller coaster traveling at 50 mph going through the bottom of a vertical curve may generate 3 g’s. If the speed of the roller coaster is increased to 100 mph and the vertical radius of curvature is increased by four times, the coaster will still generate only 3 g’s. Thus, speed and height do not necessarily generate higher forces. In fact, high, fast and smooth rides may have substantially lower accelerations than some older, smaller and slower rides. Advances in technology, like computerized designs, computerized track rail bending and computer aided machining techniques have allowed taller and faster structures to be developed while keeping acceleration levels at or below previous levels.

Misconception #3 - Rides today have more acceleration than the Space Shuttle!

The space shuttle has sustained accelerations in excess of 3 g’s for several minutes. However, the 3-g space shuttle acceleration is in the +X (eyes back) direction. Most roller coasters and other amusement rides have their maximum sustained acceleration levels of 4 to 6 g’s in the +Z (eyes down) direction and for much shorter periods. A comparison of the space shuttle to a roller coaster is like comparing apples and oranges. Actually very few amusement rides have a +X g level of more than the space shuttle’s 3 g’s. It also is important to understand to understand that the space shuttle’s levels were selected not entirely for the astronauts physical safety (most were ex fighter pilots who routinely pulled 7-9 g’s in high performance aircraft); rather NASA determined through testing that at more than 3 g’s, an astronauts psychomotor skills (ability to perform complex tasks) started to degrade. This requirement is not the case in amusement rides.

click here to return to index
Safety Record
image -yellow line

The United States Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) tracks amusement park injuries that require medical attention at a hospital. This data indicates that the total of all injuries from all causes is approximately 6,500/year and the overwhelming majority of these are treated and released. Only about 130 people per year require an overnight stay. Therefore, the likelihood of being injured on a ride seriously enough to require hospitalization is about 1 in 25 Million.

Highlights of the CPSC 2002 Report along with injury rates are as follows:

click here to view larger version of graph

click on graph to view larger version

Injuries tracked by the CPSC are segmented into seven categories. The categories and their averages for 1997-2001 (shown above) is:

click here to view larger version of graph

click on graph to view larger version


Note:
Percent of total may not sum to100 percent due to rounding.
Reported injuries include non-ride related injuries.

Assuming that all of the reported injuries in the trunk/neck/head/face/ear/pubic area occur on an amusement ride, which they do not, the percentage of injuries is still extremely low, i.e., »0.0000007% of rides result in an injury in these areas.

click here to return to index
Commitment To Safety
image -yellow line

It is clear that the amusement industry has an impressive safety record and that the industry strives constantly to strengthen its training, maintenance and testing programs. In addition, the industry abides by numerous state and local licensing and inspection regulations, adopts the latest technologies and techniques, and submits itself to regular rigorous insurance examinations. This commitment to safety has allowed the amusement industry to thrive for more than a century, and will ensure that it continues to provide safe, quality, family entertainment for many years to come.

click here to return to index
References
image -yellow line

AIMS International. 1250 SE Port St. Lucie Blvd, Suite C, Port St. Lucie, FL 34952.

Allen, M.E., Weir-Jones, L., Motiuk, D.R., Flewin, K.R., Goring, R.D., Kobetich, R., Broadhurst, A. (1994). Acceleration perturbations of daily living. Spine, Vol. 19, Number 11, 1285-1290.

Amusement Business. (2001). 49 Music Square W.,Nashville, TN. 37203-3213.

ASTM International. F-24 Standards for Amusement Rides and Devices. West Conshohocken, PA. 19428-2959.

Cartmeil, R. (1974). The Ultimate Roller Coaster: The New York Times Company.

Disney Linkage. Retrieved December 4, 2002, from www.scottware.com.au/theme/.

Domer, F.R., Liu, Y. King, Chandran, K.B. & Krieger, K.W. (1979). Effect of hyperflexion-hyperextension (whiplash) on the function of the blood-brain barrier of rhesus monkeys. Experimental Neurology, 63, 304-310.

Economic Research Corporation. 10990 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 1500, Los Angeles, CA 90024.

European Committee for Standardization. prEN13814, Central Secretary ure de Stassart 36, B-1050 Brussels, Belgium.

Harrison Price Company. 2141 Paseo Del Mar, San Pedro, CA 90732.

International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions. 1448 Duke St., Alexandria, VA 22314.

Liu, Y. King, Chandran, K.B., Heath, R.G.& Unterharnscheidt, F. (1984). Subcortical EEG changes in rhesus monkeys following experimental hyperflexion-hyperextentension (whiplash). Spine, 9, 329-338.

Onosko, T. (1978). Funland USA: Ballantine Books.

Pescovita, D. Roller Coasters: Inventing the Scream Machine. Retrieved December 6, 2002 from www.britannica.com.

Shames, I. H. (1996). Dynamics (4th ed.), Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.

Siegmund, G.P., King, D.J., Lawrence, J.M., Wheeler, J.B., Brault, J.R., Smith, T.A. (1997). Head/neck kinematic response of human subjects in low-speed rear-end collisions. Proceedings of the 1997 Stapp Car Crash Conference. SAE paper # 973341. 357-385.

Silverstein, M. (1986). Scream Machines, Roller Coasters Past, Present and Future: Walker & Company.

U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission. (2002). Amusement Ride Related Injuries and Deaths in the United States. Directorate for Epidemiology, Division of Hazard Analysis. 4330 East West Highway, Bethesda, MD 20814.

U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission. Directory of State Amusement Ride Safety Officials, Office of Compliance, Division of Recalls and Compliance. Washington, DC 20207.

Varney, N.R., Varney, R.N. (1995). Brain injury without head injury: some physics of automobile collisions with particular reference to brain injuries occurring without physical head trauma. Applied Neuropsychology. 2. 47-62.

Whinnery J.E. Whinnery A.M. (1990). Acceleration-induced loss of consciousness. A review of 500 episodes. Archives of Neurology. 47(7):764-76.

click here to return to index
Tables & Appendices
image -yellow line

Table 1: Basic use statistics for amusement parks in the United States

click here to view larger version of graph

click on graph to view larger version


Using information from all sources, the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions lists 2001 attendance as 319 Million. Other pertinent data can be summarized as follows:


Appendix A: Acceleration Limits

(Section-7 of ASTM Z9591Z “Standard Practice/Guide for the Design of Amusement Rides and Devices”)
          
7.1.1 Amusement rides and devices shall be designed such that the accelerations, as measured in accordance with ASTM F-2137, are within the limits specified in this practice.
           
7.1.2 Amusement rides and devices or major modifications that are designed to operate outside the acceleration limits herein shall include justification in the Ride Analysis. The justification shall include a review by a biodynamic expert.
           
7.1.3 Acceleration can vary greatly depending on the type and design of the amusement ride or device and the effect of these accelerations are dependent on many factors that may be considered in the design (see Appendix). Accelerations shall be coordinated with the intended physical orientation of the patron during the operating cycle. Rides and devices with patron containment systems shall be designed such that the patron is suitably contained and positioned to accept these accelerations. The Patron Restraint and Containment analysis shall consider cases related to patron position within the restraint as determined by the Designer/Engineer. Figure 4 illustrates the coordinate system utilized.
           
7.1.4 Sustained Acceleration Limits are shown in Figures 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9. The following definitions apply:
  • Acceleration units are “g’s” (32.2 ft/sec/sec or 9.81 m/sec/sec).
  • The limits are based on low pass filtered data with a cutoff frequency of 5 Hz. The filter to be applied shall be either a 2 pole Butterworth applied in both the forward and reverse directions, or a 4 pole Butterworth applied in the forward direction conforming to SAE J 211. Cutoff frequency is defined to be that frequency where the magnitude response of the filter is the square root of ½.
  • Impacts of less than 200 milliseconds duration with accelerations greater than 6 g are not addressed by this Practice.
  • Acceleration limits herein are for patrons 48 inches in height and above. The Designer/Engineer shall determine whether more restrictive limits are appropriate for an amusement ride or device that accommodates patrons under 48 inches in height. In making this determination, the Designer/Engineer shall consider biodynamic effects on the patrons. If an amusement ride, device, or major modification that accommodates patrons under 48 inches in height is designed to operate outside the acceleration limits herein, the Ride Analysis must include a review by a biodynamic expert.
  • Because of insufficient data, the suitability of the acceleration limits herein for disabled patrons must be addressed on an individual basis.
  • The coordinates and measurement point for the acceleration limits are in accordance with ASTM F 2137-01 Section 12 “Standardized Amusement Ride Characterization test (SARC test).”
  • The limits specified for all axes are for total net acceleration, inclusive of earth’s gravity. A motionless body would therefore have a magnitude of 1 g measured in the axis perpendicular to the earth’s surface, and a zero g magnitude in the axes parallel to the earth’s surface.
  • Steady state values in the charts are not limited in time unless otherwise specified. Sustained exposure in excess of 90 seconds has not been addressed by this practice.
  • These limits are provided for the following basic restraints types:
    • Base Case (Class-4 or 5 Restraint)- For the purpose of acceleration limits, the class 4 restraint used as the base case herein also provides support to the lower body in all directions and maintains patron contact with the seat at all times.
    • Over-the-Shoulder (Class-5 Restraint)
    • Prone Restraint- A prone restraint is one in which the patron is oriented face down at a point or points during the ride cycle. A prone restraint is a restraint designed to allow the patron to accept higher acceleration in the –Gx (eyes front) as compared to the Base Case and Over-the-Shoulder restraints.

The Patron Restraint and Containment Analysis shall be used to determine the type of restraint. The type and performance of the restraint system selected may require a reduction in the acceleration limit.

Figure 4 Coordinate System


click here to view larger version of graph
click on graph to view larger version



Figure 5 Time Duration Limits for +Gx (Eyes Back)

click here to view larger version of graph
click on graph to view larger version



Figure 6 Time Duration Limits for -Gx (Eyes Front)

click here to view larger version of graph
click on graph to view larger version



Figure 7 Time Duration Limits for +/-Gy (Eyes Left or Eyes Right)

click here to view larger version of graph
click on graph to view larger version



Figure 8 Time Duration Limits for -Gz (Eyes Up)

click here to view larger version of graph
click on graph to view larger version



Figure 9 Time Duration Limits for +Gz (Eyes Down)

click here to view larger version of graph
click on graph to view larger version



           
7.1.5 Simultaneous combinations of single axis accelerations shall be limited as follows:

           
7.1.5.1 The instantaneous combined acceleration magnitude of any two axes shall be limited by a curve that is defined in each quadrant by an ellipse. The ellipse is centered at (0,0) and is characterized by major and minor radii equal to the allowable 200 millisecond G limits x 1.1. Graphical representations of this requirement are presented in the Appendix for clarification. Note that for a given ride, only three of the curves will apply.

           
7.1.6 Reversals in X and Y accelerations are shown in Fig. 7. The following criteria shall apply:

           
7.1.6.1 The peak-to-peak transition time between consecutive sustained events in X and Y accelerations shall be greater than 200 ms, as measured by the time between the peaks of the consecutive events. When the elapsed time between consecutive sustained events is less than 200 msec, the limit for the peak values shall be reduced by 50%.

           
7.1.6.2 The following examples illustrate such reversal:


Figure 10 Reversals in X and Y (5 Hz Filtered Data)

click here to view larger version of graph
click on graph to view larger version



           
7.1.7 Transitions in Z

           
7.1.7.1 Transition directly from negative (eyes up) limits to positive (eyes down) limits is restricted. If Patrons are exposed to a negative Gz environment for more than 3 seconds, then the limits are reduced as shown in the +Gz limit chart for 6 seconds after the transition to positive Gz. After the 6 second period, the limits may be increased to the normal chart levels.

           
7.1.7.2 Other Transitions in Z accelerations are shown in Fig. 8. The following criteria shall apply: When transitioning from sustained weightless (0g) and more negative levels to 2g’s and more positive levels, the effective onset of positive g’s shall be less than 15 g’s/sec. The following example illustrates such transitions:


Figure 11 Transitions from Sustained -Gz (eyes up) to +Gz (Eyes Down) (5 Hz Filtered Data)

click here to view larger version of graph
click on graph to view larger version



Measurement and analysis of acceleration on amusement rides and devices shall be performed in accordance with ASTM F-2137-01, Measuring the Dynamic Characteristics of Amusement Rides and Devices. The design acceleration levels of the final operational assembly of a newly developed amusement ride, device, or major modification shall be verified at commissioning. The Manufacturer may verify acceleration limits herein by using either manual (e.g., graphic, hand calculations, etc.) or automatic (e.g., computational, computer, etc.) procedures.

Appendix B: Additional standards references and required by ASTM Z9591Z

"Standard Practice for the Design of Amusement Rides and Devices"

  • ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials):
    ASTM F-698-94 (R2000) Specification for Physical Information to be Provided for Amusement Rides and Devices.
    ASTM F-747-97 Terminology Relating to Amusement Rides and Devices.
    ASTM F-770-93 (R2000) Practice for Operation Procedures for Amusement Rides and Devices.
    ASTM F-846-92 (R1998) Guide for Testing Performance of Amusement Rides and Devices.
    ASTM F-853-98 Practice for Maintenance Procedures for Amusement Rides and Devices.
    ASTM F-893-87 (R2000) Guide for Inspection of Amusement Rides and Devices.
    ASTM F-1159-02 Practice for the Design and Manufacture of Amusement Rides and Devices
    ASTM F-2137-01 Practice for Measuring the Dynamic Characteristics of Amusement Rides and Devices
    ASTM STP-1330-98 Composite Materials: Fatigue and Fracture, 7th Volume
    ASTM MIL 17 -99 The Composite Material Handbook
  • ACI (American Concrete Institute):
    ACI-301-99 Specifications for Structural Concrete
    ACI-318-02 Building Code Requirements for Structural Concrete (ACI-318-99) and Commentary (318R-99)
  • AFPA (American Forest & Paper Association), American Wood Council Publications:
    NDS (National Design Standard) for ASD Design
  • AISC (American Institute of Steel Construction):
    AISC 316 Manual on Steel Construction, Allowable Stress Design (ASD), 1989
    AISC M015 Manual on Steel Construction, Load & Resistance Factor Design (LRFD), 1986
  • ANSI (American National Standards Institute):
    ANSI B93.114M 1987 Pneumatic Fluid Power – Systems Standard for Industrial Machinery
    ANSI B11.TR3 2000 Risk Assessment and Risk Reduction – A guide to Estimate, Evaluate, and Reduce Risks Associated with Machine Tools
    ANSI B77.1 1999 Passenger Ropeways – Aerial Tramways, Aerial Lifts, Surface Lifts, Tows and Conveyors – Safety Requirements
    ANSI 2193
  • ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers):
    ASCE 7-95 Minimum Design Loads For Buildings and Other Structures
    ASCE 16-95 Standard for Load and Resistance Factor Design (LRFD) For Engineered Wood Construction.
  • ASMI (American Society of Metals International):
    ASM Atlas of Fatigue Curves, 1986
    ASM Handbook Volume 19: Fatigue and Fracture
  • ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers):
    ASME B15.1-00 Safety Standards for Mechanical Power Transmission Apparatus
    ASME A17.-02 Safety Code for Elevators and Escalators
  • AWS (American Welding Society):
    ANSI/AWS D1.1/D1.1M-2002 Structural Welding Code-Steel
    ANSI/AWS D14.4 –1997 Specification For Welded Joints In Machinery and Equipment
  • British Standards Institution:
    BS 5400-10(1980) Steel, Concrete and Composite Bridges. Code of practice for Fatigue
    BS 7608(1993) Code Of Practice For Fatigue Design And Assessment Of Steel Structures
  • CDC (Center for Disease Control):
    CDC Basic Body Measurements (http://www.cdc.gov/ [Search:anthropometrics])
  • CISC (Canadian Institute of Steel Construction):
    Hallow Structural Section Connection and Trusses- A Design Guide, J.A. Parker and J.E. Henderson
  • DIN (German Institute For Standardization):
    DIN 15018-1, Cranes; steel structures; Verification and Analyses date
  • EN (European Committee for Standardization):
    EN 280 2001 Mobile Elevating Work Platforms – Design Calculations, Stability Criteria, Construction, Safety, Examinations, and Tests
    EN 954-1 96 Safety of Machinery – Safety Related Parts of Control Systems – General Principles for Design
    EN 1050 96 Safety of Machinery – Principles for Risk Assessment
    EN 1993-1-9:2001 Eurocode 3. Design of steel structures. Part 1.9. Fatigue strength of steel structures.
    EN 1993-1-9:2001 Eurocode 3. Design Of Steel Structures. Part 6.9. Crane Supporting Structures - Fatigue Strength.
    EN 60204-1: 1998 Safety of Machinery – Electrical Equipment of Machines – General Requirements
    EN 60947-1: 1999 Low-Voltage Switchgear and Controlgear
    EN 61496-1: 1999 Safety of Machinery – Electro-Sensitive Protective Equipment – General Requirements and Tests
  • IEC (Cable Assemblies Interface Equipment):
    IEC-60204-1: 2000 Safety of Machinery – Electrical Equipment of Machines – Part 1: General Requirements
    IEC-61508-1: 1999 Functional Safety of Electrical/Electronic/Programmable Electronic Safety-Related Systems – General Requirements
  • Federal Documents:
    USDA -72 (US Dept. of Agricultural) The Wood Handbook - Wood As An Engineering Material, Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory date.
  • ISO (International Standards Organization):
    ISO 4414 2ED 98 Pneumatic Fluid Power General Rules Relating To Systems
  • NEMA (National Electrical Manufacturers Association):
    NEMA 3R pg 62
  • NFPA (National Fire Protection Agency):
    NFPA/JIC T2.25.1M-1986 Pneumatic Fluid Power – Systems Standard for Industrial Machinery
    NFPA-79-1997 Electrical Standard for Industrial Machinery
    NFPA-70-2002 National Electric Code (NEC)
    NFPA 101 2000 Life Safety Code
  • IPEEC (International Organization for the Study of Endurance of Wire Rope)
  • SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers)
    SAE J-211 PT195 Instrumentation for Impact Test – Electronic Instrumentation
    SAE J-833 89 Human Physical Dimensions
    SAE HS 4000: 1999 Fastener Standards
  • UL (Underwriter’s Laboratory):
    UL 508: 2000 Industrial Control Equipment
    UL-508A: 2000 Industrial Control Panels
  • Other Referenced Publications:
    Humanscale 4/5/6, Henry Dreyfuss Associates, The MIT Press, 3rd printing 1993
    Humanscale 7/8/9, Henry Dreyfuss Associates, The MIT Press, 2nd printing 1991
    Mechanical Engineering Design, Joseph E. Shigley & Larry D. Mitchell, McGraw-Hill
    Standard Handbook of Machine Design, Joseph E. Shigley & Charles R. Mischke, McGraw-Hill
    Handbook of Mechanical Engineering, Heinrich Dubbel, Wolfgang Bietz, K.H. Kuttner, Springer-Verlag
    Fatigue Strength of Welded Structures, S.J. Maddox, 2nd Edition, Abington Publishing, 1991

Appendix C: Roller Coaster Evolution

1400's - First Coasters

The first known records date back to Russia in the 1400’s when slides constructed of wood were covered with ice and people would climb into an ice-block sled outfitted with a straw seat for a swift but enjoyable ride to the bottom.

By the 16th century, elaborate ice slides were built in St. Petersburg, Russia. These slides were about 70 feet high and often stretched for several blocks. Riders had to climb a long set of stairs to the top in order to ride. Later, some slides used more comfortable 2-foot long sleds instead of ice blocks. This was strictly a winter activity for without ice they did not work.

1784 - First Wheeled Coaster Cars

Catherine the Great added small wheels to her ice sled to extend the riding season. This feature made the slide concept more attractive in climates where building an ice slide was not a desirable option.

1816 - First Coasters Outside of Russia

Dry slides with wheeled carts were erected in Paris. Many were named for the Russian ice slides, “Les Montagnes Russe”, which means Russian Mountain. One design used hundreds of rollers on the slide and sleds with runners coasted down the slide on the rollers. (This may be the origin of the term roller coaster.)

1848 - First Looping Coaster

French engineer Monsieur Clavieras opened the world’s first looping coaster, the “Centrifugal Pleasure Railway” at the Frascati Gardens in Paris. The ride started from a 43-foot high hill and had a 13-foot diameter loop. It worked but with the small circular loop the strain was too much on passengers. The coaster was deemed unfeasible and was soon torn down.

1873 - First U.S. Coaster

In the United States, a gravity-powered transportation system for moving coal was developed in Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania. This 18-mile long circuit was made obsolete by the construction of a nearby tunnel that provided a new route for the coal. The owners decided to put a passenger car on the line and began hauling paying customers instead of coal. The round-trip was approximately an hour and a half. The owners charged one dollar per ride and the venture was a success, demonstrating that people would pay money to coast down a hill.

1884 - First Real Coaster & Father of Gravity

La Marcus Adna Thompson opens the first true roller coaster at Coney Island in New York City on June 13, 1884. Thompson’s “Switchback Gravity Pleasure Railway” was partly a Russian Mountain and partly the Mauch Chunk Railway. He charged five cents to ride and recouped his cost in less than three weeks. By 1888, Thompson had built twenty roller coasters in the United States and twenty-four in Europe earning him the nickname of “Father of Gravity.”

1884 - First Continuous Circuit Coaster

Charles Allcoke builds the first continuous-circuit roller coaster at Coney Island. The design allows riders to end up where they started.

1885 - First Mechanized Lift System

Philip Hinkle builds a roller coaster where the seats face forward and the cars are mechanically pulled to the high point (lift hill) with a steam powered winch system. Variations on this design have been used on practically every roller coaster since 1885.

1887 - First Figure Eight Coaster

First “Figure-Eight” roller coaster built at Haverhill, Massachusetts.

1891 - First Switchback Coaster in England

First “Switchback Railway” built at Blackpool, England.

1891 - Second Looping Coaster

Lina Beecher invents and markets the vertical looping “Centrifugal Cycle Railway”.

1895 - First Looping Coaster in the U.S. Opens

Lina Beecher’s looping roller coaster the “Flip Flap” opens at Coney Island New York. The ride had a 25-foot circular loop and riders went through it so fast that a force equivalent to 12 g’s was generated. Although uncomfortable and dangerous, the 25-foot circular loop proved popular. However, after many complaints of neck and back injuries, the Flip Flap was closed, having operated for only a few years.

1895 - First Park to Charge Admission

Paul Boyton’s Sea Lion Park opens at Coney Island. Considered to be the first enclosed amusement park with a gate admission.

1901 - First Successful Looping Coaster

Edmund Prescott opens the first successful vertical-looping roller coaster. The “Loop-the Loop” was engineered with a much smoother elliptical loop vs. the Flip Flap circular loop. The ride attracted national attention when a glass of water strapped to a seat went through the loop without spilling a drop. Although the elliptical loop was a tremendous engineering feat, the ride closed within a short time as it did not meet three rules: large seating capacity, repeat riders and a death-defying appearance.

1907 - First High Speed Roller Coasters

The first high-speed roller coaster, “Drop-the-Dips”, designed by Christian Feuchs opens at Frederick Ingersoll’s Luna Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This was the first roller coaster to incorporate “lap bars” to secure riders in their seats. It was around this time that the roller coaster became the main attraction at amusement parks, which it remains today.

1922 - Uplift and Guide Wheels Invented

John Miller patents the “uplift wheel” and “guide wheel” safety systems for coaster cars. The uplift wheel keeps the cars on the track and allows roller coaster designers to develop more thrilling rides.

1920’s - The Golden Age of Roller Coasters

The first “golden age” of the roller coaster. Over 1,500 roller coasters are operating in North America and another 1,500 to 2,000 overseas. Local trolley companies are credited with the building craze when they build amusement parks at the end of the trolley line to entice trolley riders on weekends.

1930’s - The Demise of the Roller Coaster

The Great Depression causes many parks to close. Parks were torn down, classic roller coasters demolished and lack of maintenance encouraged fires and other failures that caused the number of roller coasters to dwindle rapidly. During the period from 1930 to 1972 almost 1,500 roller coasters were torn down and only 120 were built.
July 28, 1934 - Streetcar service to Summit Beach Park, Akron, Ohio ends.

1952 - Revival of the Roller Coaster

Cinerama film revives interest in roller coasters.

1959 - First Steel Track Roller Coaster

Karl Bacon and Arrow Development builds the first steel track roller coaster. The “Matterhorn Bobsleds” opens at Disneyland on June 14, 1959.

1970’s - Second Golden Age of Roller Coasters

The second “golden age” of the roller coaster. By 2002, there are approximately 670 roller coasters in North America and about 1,600 worldwide. The other major locations are Europe with 460 and Asia with 359.

1972 - Twin Track Wooden Coaster

John Allen of Philadelphia Toboggan builds a twin-track wooden roller coaster at Kings Island in Cincinnati, Ohio. “The Racer”, kick-started a great revival in classic wooden coasters.

1975 - First Corkscrew Roller Coaster

Ron Toomer of Arrow Development designs the first loop-the-loop corkscrew roller coaster, the “Corkscrew” coaster at Knotts’ Berry Farm in Buena Park, California.

1976 - First Modern Vertical Loop Coaster

Anton Schwarzkoph designs the first modern day “vertical-loop” steel coaster. “The Great American Revolution” commonly called “The Revolution” opens at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, California.

1979 - Longest Wooden Coaster

“The Beast”, the longest wooden-track roller coaster in the world is built at King Island in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Beast is 7,400 feet long with two lift hills.

1981 - First Suspended Coaster

Arrow Development designs the first suspended roller coaster for Kings Island in Cincinnati, Ohio. “The Bat” with its suspended-swinging cars opens to much acclaim. This design, which allows the cars to swing to align with the centrifugal force, provides almost perfectly banked curves.

1984 - First Stand-Up Coaster

Togo of Japan builds the first “stand-up” roller coaster at Kings Island in Cincinnati, Ohio. Riders stand, resting on unicycle type seats, with elaborate restraints to ride a looping roller coaster standing up.

1989 - First Coaster over 200 Feet

Arrow Development builds the first mega-coaster, “Magnum XL 200”, at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. It has the highest lift hill at 205 feet and longest first drop at 195 feet.

1992 - First Inverted Coaster

Bolliger & Mabillard builds the first “inverted” roller coaster, “Batman The Ride”, at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Illinois. This roller coaster featured inverted vehicle (track on top), feet dangling (no vehicle body) and outside loops (vehicle on outside of loop). Current amusement rides of all types copied the open feeling provided by this design.

1992 - Longest Coaster

The world’s longest roller coaster, “Ultimate” is built at Lightwater Valley Theme Park, England. The wooden roller coaster is 7,442 feet long with a height of 157 feet.

1994 - Record Holder

“Desperado”, built by Arrow Dynamics at Buffalo Bill’s Resort Casino, becomes the world’s tallest roller coaster at 209 feet. It is also the fastest conventional gravity ride at 80 MPH and has the longest first drop or 225 feet.

1995 - Most Inversions

“Dragon Khan” designed by Bolliger & Mabillard of Switzerland opens at Port Aventura, Salou, Spain. Dragon Khan has the most inversions of any complete circuit roller coaster, a total of eight.

1996 - Tallest Coaster

“Fujiyama”, built by Togo of Japan at Fujikyp Highlands Park, Japan, became the world’s tallest roller coaster at 259 feet above ground and had the highest lift hill of 234 feet 7 inches.

1997 - Tallest Coaster

“Superman: The Escape”, designed by Intamin AG of Switzerland, opens at Six Flags Magic Mountain, and is the first roller coaster powered by linear motors. Linear motors catapult the vehicles up to 100 MPH after which it travels up a vertical track 400 high then retraces its path backwards. The ride has a straight track, no turns or loops, with large radius between the horizontal and vertical track that keeps accelerations at approximately 3.5 g’s. The 400-foot tower also produces a floating experience (zero G’s) for approximately seven seconds.

1998 - Steepest Drop

“Oblivion”, Designed by Bolliger & Mabillard of Switzerland opens at Alton Towers, England. It is the first “vertical drop” roller coaster

2000 - Tallest Coaster

“Millennium Force”, opens at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio as the new world’s tallest roller coaster. It is 310 feet high with a first drop of 300 feet. (With a modern high tech design Millennium Force has lower forces than some older and smaller roller coasters.)

2002 - Flying Coaster

“Superman: Ultimate Flight” opens at Six Flags Over Georgia in Atlanta, Georgia. Built by Bolliger & Mabillard of Switzerland, this high tech roller coaster positions riders in a lay-down position, which simulates the thrill of flying. (Extensive simulator testing, prototype testing, analysis and subsequent test rides proves the concept is not only feasible but highly desirable.)

2002 - Statistics

Today there are approximately 1,600 roller coasters worldwide. Most of these are in North America (679), Europe (460) and Asia (359).

Appendix D: Clothoid vs. Circular - 60 mph Coaster

Modern designs reduce acceleration levels

click here to view larger version of graph
click on graph to view larger version



click here to view larger version of graph
click on graph to view larger version



Appendix E: Brain Injury Association of America

Mission Statement:
To create a better future through brain injury prevention, research, education and advocacy.

Contact Information:
8201 Greensboro Dr., Suite 611
McLean, VA 22102
(703) 761-0750
www.biausa.org

Background:
Each year, at least 1.5 million Americans sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI) resulting in more than 4,000 individuals sustaining a TBI on a daily basis. One million people are treated and released annually from hospital emergency rooms after sustaining a brain injury. Brain injury claims more than 50,000 lives and leaves more than 80,000 individuals with lifelong disabilities each year. The "silent epidemic" of brain injury is illustrated best by a 1999 statistic from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)-there currently are at least 5.3 million Americans living with a disability as a result of brain injury.

With traumatic brain injury occurring every 21 seconds, this public health concern ranks as the leading cause of death and disability in children and young adults. For those who survive and their families, brain injury is life altering. Serious physical impairments are a frequent result, as are a variety of cognitive, behavioral and emotional complications. In addition, the costs related to brain injury are staggering. Individuals with severe brain injury typically face five to 10 years of intensive rehabilitation with cumulative costs exceeding $35 billion annually.

The Brain Injury Association of America was founded in 1980 by a group of individuals who wanted to improve the quality of life for their family members who had sustained brain injuries. Despite phenomenal growth over the past two decades, the Association remains committed to its grassroots. The Brain Injury Association of America encompasses a national network of more than 40 chartered state affiliates across the country, as well as hundreds of local chapters and support groups.

The Association envisions a world where all preventable brain injuries are prevented, all unpreventable brain injuries are minimized and all individuals who have experienced brain injury maximize their quality of life.

By acting as a clearinghouse of community service information and resources, participating in legislative advocacy, facilitating prevention awareness, hosting educational programs and encouraging research, the Brain Injury Association of America and its affiliates work to reach the millions of individuals living with the "silent epidemic" of brain injury.

The Brain Injury Association of America's Family Helpline receives approximately 15,000 calls each year from individuals with brain injury, family members and providers seeking assistance, education and support. The Family Helpline is, for many, the first point of contact and support during the tumultuous times following a brain injury. The trained Information and Resources Department, who manages the Family Helpline, provides resources to individuals involved in brain injury.

All of the Association's chartered state affiliates deliver core services in their communities, including education, advocacy, support and prevention. The affiliates act as a clearinghouse of information and resources, often available to callers through statewide, toll-free family helplines. One of the Brain Injury Association of America's goals is to provide individuals with information that will assist them in being their own best advocates.

Additionally, the Association spearheads a network of information exchange through its collaboration with the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC). A number of publications emanate from this partnership, including TBI Challenge!, a newsletter geared toward those affected by brain injury and Brain Injury Source, a professional magazine. The Association also educates its constituents with the Brain Injury Resource CenterTM (BIRCTM), an interactive, computer-based, multimedia system, as well as its Web site - biausa.org - geared toward those affected by brain injury.

The Brain Injury Association of America provides comprehensive education about brain injury to audiences as diverse as physicians, rehabilitation specialists, trial lawyers and educators. Conferences such as the National Symposium and the Public Policy Conference, as well as state and local seminars, feature best practices in the field presented by leading experts.

Currently, prevention is the only known cure for brain injury. Through programs geared to all age levels, the Association devotes a great deal of effort toward teaching children and adults how to prevent brain injuries from occurring. The Brain Injury Association of America represents its interest in brain injury prevention through participation in national coalitions, including the SafeUSA Planning Council, the Healthy People 2010 Consortium and the National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration's (NHTSA) national Bicycle Safety Network. Fact sheets and current information on brain injury prevention are provided on the Association's Web site.

The Brain Injury Association of America's Government Relations Department is strongly committed to advocating at the Federal, state and local levels of government on behalf of individuals with brain injury and their families. Chief among the Association's legislative victories was the 1996 passage of the Traumatic Brain Injury Act, which was reauthorized by Congress in October 2000. The Brain Injury Association of America participates in a number of disability-related coalitions and has played an important role in the passage of legislation as diverse as the Workforce Incentives Improvement Act and the Assistive Technology Act, while working to prevent the erosion of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which protects the constitutional rights of children and adults with brain injury.

The Brain Injury Association of America is proud to be the only nonprofit organization working on behalf of individuals with brain injury and their families. The Association recognizes the tireless accomplishments of its constituents across the country-from individuals with brain injury, medical professionals and family members to educators, attorneys and corporate partners. Much of the Association's success is due to the support of these courageous people.

Appendix F: Blue Ribbon Panel Members

Gregory O’Shanick, M.D.
Chair
National Medical Director
Brain Injury Association of America
McLean, VA
Medical Director, Center for Neurorehabilitation Services
Midlothian, VA


Michael Freeman, Ph.D., D.C., M.P.H.
Forensic Trauma Epidemiologist
Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine
Oregon Health Sciences University School of Medicine
Salem, OR


David A. Hovda, Ph.D.
Professor
Neurosurgery, Departments of Surgery and of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology
Director, UCLA Brain Injury Research Center
Los Angeles, CA


T. Harold Hudson
Industry Expert
(Retired Sr. Vice President of Engineering, Six Flags Theme Parks, Inc.)
President
AAPRA Associates, LLC
Southlake, TX


Y.King Liu, Ph.D.
President
University of Northern California
Petaluma, CA


David Meaney, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Graduate Group Chair
Department of Bioengineering
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA


Nils Roberts Varney, Ph.D.
Neuropsychologist
Chief, Psychology Service
VA Medical Center
Iowa City, IA



Brain Injury Association of America Staff Contacts

Allan I. Bergman
President/CEO
(703) 761-0750 ext. 107


Christopher Fuller
Public Relations Specialist
(703) 761-0750 ext. 106


Anne Parrette Rohall, Esq.
Director of Government Relations
(703) 761-0750 ext. 120

click here to return to index
click here to go back to the blue ribbon panel home page

click here for home page