New safety standards eyed for rides
the-japan-news.com -- May 18
In response to a series of accidents at amusement parks, the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry has decided to review safety standards for devices such as seat belts and safety bars used on roller coasters and other types of rides.

The ministry will adopt new criteria to prevent accidents based on centrifugal or other physical forces being applied to passengers.

The ministry received reports of about 50 accidents involving attractions at amusement parks and theme parks between 2011 and 2016. Of these, two fatalities and serious or minor injuries to about 40 other people were reported.

Currently, safety criteria are determined by the ride's speed and the track gradient levels. For example, monorail rides and children's engine-like rides, which travel on a flat course at less than 40 kph, are required to have seat belts.

Higher-speed roller coasters, which travel along a repeatedly descending and ascending track at nearly 100 kph, are required to be equipped with - in addition to seat belts and handrails - foolproof devices to hold the passenger in a position fixed to the seat, including harnesses that clamp down on the upper half of passengers' bodies.

In recent years, however, a greater variety of rides have been developed, including some that run at a low speed but generate massive centrifugal force. The current standards require only simple safety devices for low-speed types, but there have been accidents involving rides with tracks that have sharp corners where the seat belts came undone because of the centrifugal force or passengers jostled around roughly in the seats, resulting in injuries.

At an amusement park in Gunma Prefecture in June 2012, a 6-year-old boy was thrown from a low-speed coaster because of centrifugal force when it was near a corner on the track. The boy, who broke his hand in the accident, was wearing his seat belt.

News source: the-japan-news.com
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