Consumers Union Supports Amusement Park Safety Bill

Press Release
Thursday, April 13, 2000
Contact: Sally Greenberg
(202) 462-6262
Consumers Union Washington, DC Office


WASHINGTON, D.C – Sally Greenberg, senior product safety counsel for Consumers Union, made the following statement today in support of a bill in Congress (H.R. 3032) sponsored by Rep. Ed Markey of Massachusetts to improve safety at amusement parks:
“What do amusement parks promise consumers? Entertainment. A good time for ourselves and our families. Amusement parks promise amusement.
“But there is nothing amusing about the safety problems at amusement parks. There’s nothing amusing about the increase in the number of injuries. And there’s nothing amusing about the shoddy inspections and spotty records that keep us from preventing these problems.
“We believe that evidence shows that amusement parks are not as safe as they could be or should be. The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that hospital emergency rooms treated 9200 people for ride-related injuries in 1998. That’s an increase of 24 percent in just four years.
“Yet it’s difficult to get a complete picture of how safe amusement parks really are because the rules are so lax in certain states. While some states are very thorough, others don’t even bother to inspect the rides or require the operators to report any injuries. On the federal level, there is no oversight of amusement parks at fixed locations, and there is only limited federal regulation of travelling carnivals.
“Clearly, we need tougher regulations that apply to every state. That’s why Consumers Union supports the bill sponsored by Congressman Markey. It would broaden the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s oversight to cover the rides at fixed sites. Federal officials would be allowed to investigate accidents at parks and order safety repairs. The safety commission would act as a clearinghouse for information about rides that have problems.
“Consumers Union is sending a letter to congressional leaders today to ask them to support this legislation and hold hearings as soon as possible. Time is of the essence since summer vacation is just around the corner. The longer Congress waits, the greater the risk of another tragedy that could have been prevented.
“The amusement park industry is a ten-billion-dollar business that attracted over 500 million visitors last year. The rules to protect those visitors are so wildly inconsistent that it should be clear to anyone that we need federal action. Congressman Markey’s bill is definitely a step worth taking.”

Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports magazine, is an independent, nonprofit testing and information-gathering organization, serving only the consumer. We are a comprehensive source of unbiased advice about products and services, personal finance, health, nutrition, and other consumer concerns. Since 1936, our mission has been to test products, inform the public, and protect consumers.