Most Commonly Reported Injuries

General Findings by Equipment Type

The following summary information is drawn from accident data provided by state regulatory agencies (see Data Sources section) and hospital emergency room data drawn from the Consumer Product Safety Commission's NEISS system (2002-2006).
  • The most common amusement ride injuries stem from impacts and body strains caused by the ride's normal motion, such as whiplash or smacking against part of the carrier as the ride makes a sudden turn. Females seek treatment for amusement ride injuries more often than males, with adult females well in the lead. Head, neck, and lower trunk (back) are the most common injury sites for amusement rides.
  • The most common go-kart injuries are caused by collisions with other karts and impacts with barriers. Victims are twice as likely to be male. Boys age 7-12 suffer the most injuries.
  • The most common waterslide injuries stem from impacts and body strains caused by the ride's inherent slip-and-slide nature, such as smacking against part of the flume. 11% of state reports indicated that two patrons collided while sliding. Boys suffer more injuries than girls during childhood. Teenage boys are treated least often for waterslide injuries; adult females are treated most often. Head, face, and back are the most common injury sites.
  • The most common accidents on inflatable devices involve patrons falling or colliding in a way that causes injury. CPSC hospital data indicates that 18% of victims, mostly very young children, were injured falling out of the inflatable onto a harder surface. Children 12 and under account for the vast majority of injuries. Boys are injured more frequently than girls.

General Findings Related to Amusement Rides Only (excludes Go-karts, Inflatables, Waterslides)

  • Roller coasters are, by far, the most commonly cited ride in both accident and injury reports for patrons over the age of six. Kiddie rides are cited most often for children 6 and under. Spinning rides are the second most frequently cited ride type.
  • Injuries from a patron's body hitting something inside the vehicle during the normal course of the ride account for 20-25% of accidents reported to state agencies for children and teens. This figure drops as age increases, accounting for 16% of total accidents for adults under 40, 12% for adults 40-59, and 7% for adults 60+.
  • Reports of body pain stemming from the ride's normal motion are low for children under 7, but increase with age, peaking at 26% of total reported accidents for adults under 40. Rates then decrease to 16% for middle-aged adults and 9% for older adults.
  • Young children are at highest risk of falls and ejections mid-ride. The high risk group drops off at approximately 9 years of age. According to state logs, falls/ejections account for 10% of amusement ride accidents involving kids younger than seven. CPSC hospital ER reports show the same relative increased risk for young children, however the hospital data reports a significantly higher rate of falls/ejections for all age groups. 52% of hospital narratives for amusement ride-related injuries to kids under seven indicate the child fell from the equipment.
  • Kids 1-6 and adults 60+ have a higher rate of injury while getting into or out of the ride than older children or younger adults. This category accounts for approximately 23% of total accidents for the youngest patrons and 33% of total accidents for the oldest patrons, compared with 11%-14% for ages 7-39.
  • Older adults have a higher rate of reportable illness triggered by riding. This includes asthma, heart problems, vascular bleeds, seizures, etc. This category accounts for only 2% of total accidents for children, rising to 7%-9% for teens and younger adults, 20% for adults 40-59 and 31% for adults 60+.
  • Children show a higher rate of restraint injury, such as pinching fingers or hitting their head as the restraint closes. This category accounts for 10%-12% accidents for children compared with 5%-7% for teens and young-middle-aged adults, and 1% for adults 60+.

General Findings from Medical Records (All Amusement Devices)

  • Kids 1-6 suffered more injuries to head or face than any other body part, 40% of total. This compares to 24% for kids 7-12, 18% for teens, and 12% for adults.
  • Neck injuries increase markedly from the 1-6 age group (4%) to the 7-18 age group (11%). The rate drops slightly for adults to 7%.
  • Injuries to upper and lower trunk (mostly back injuries) overwhelmingly affect adults (30% of total). Rates for children increase with age: 6% for kids 1-6, 10% for kids 7-12, 12% for teens.
  • Males suffer more strains and sprains. Teenage boys are at highest risk for sprains and strains when all amusement devices are considered together.
  • Females suffer more lacerations and internal injuries. Adult females are at highest risk for fractures, contusions and abrasions, lacerations and concussions.
  • Go-kart injuries show the highest rate of hospital admission at 8% compared to 6% for inflatable devices and 2% for amusement rides and waterslides.