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June 4, 1999

California State Assembly Passes Theme Park Legislation Bill

Sacramento, CA -- The California State Assembly approved a bill Wednesday, that if passed in the Senate will give the state more control over the permanent amusement parks.

The bill written by Tom Torlakson (D), is in response to a 1997 accident at a Concord water park which killed one teenage girl.

"I don't understand why this did not happen years ago," said Victoria Nelson whose daughter was a victim of a theme park accident.

If the bill passes it will require annual state safety inspections of amusement park rides. In addition parks will be required to establish training programs for ride operators and keep records of accidents, which must be reported to the state.

Critics of the bill say it is a waste of taxpayer money and will do little to help prevent accidents or deaths at state theme parks.

"A theme parks reputation rides on their safety record," says industry source. "There is no way we are going to purposely slip in this area. Our business depends on it."

Major ride accidents at permanent theme parks are considered rare. The majority of the reported accidents on record are the result of rider error, rather than operator error or mechanical failure.

From 1987 to June 1998 there were a little over twenty ride-related deaths at amusement parks nationwide. This number is considered to be very low considering the tens of millions of park visits every year.

"This bill is totally unnecessary, says Jeff Doran of Orange. "I would be willing to bet that more than a hundred individuals are killed in automobile accidents every year while in route to a theme park. Ride related deaths while tragic are insignificant."

The legislation now moves on to the California State Senate for debate.