If a basic roller coaster wasn’t thrilling enough, a 4th Dimension roller coaster takes amusement rides to a whole different level – and a dangerous one at that. With the lives of trusting consumers hundreds of feet in the air, it may be shocking to learn that roller coasters at amusement parks are not required to follow a set standard of federal safety regulations. You would think that such a popular industry that attracted about 300 million in 2004, according to the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA), would be properly regulated, but that, unfortunately, isn’t the case.
Mechanics of 4th Dimension Coasters
A type of steel roller coaster, 4th Dimension coasters are designed so that individuals riding them are rotated separately from the orientation of the track, usually along a horizontal axis that is perpendicular to the track. This type of roller coaster calls for trains with specialized seats designed to rotate forward or backward, 360 degrees in a controlled spin. To allow these types of motions, as one can imagine, the precarious ride consists of four rails on the track, two of which act like any type of roller coaster and two that direct the spin of the seats.
The only 4th Dimension roller coasters in the United States are at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, CA: X2 (formerly known as X) and The Green Lantern. In 2014, another 4th Dimension coaster is expected to open at Atlantic City’s Steel Pier.
Manufacturers presently designing and building 4th dimension coasters include Intamin Worldwide of Wollerau, Switzerland, and S&S World Wide of Logan, Utah who purchased the now-defunct Arrow Dynamics renaming it S&S Arrow.
The Reality of Potential Dangers
The devastating tragedy that results from an accident on roller coasters is indescribable. Roller coasters are sought as forms of entertainment and adventure, but screams of excitement can turn to screams of horror in an instant if a 4th Dimension coaster experiences mechanical failure or is improperly designed.
4th Dimension coasters put a person’s body through movement that is seemingly unnatural and does so at heights close to 200 feet. Due to the great heights of these rides, coaster trains can reach speeds of up to 75 mph. For instance, X2 can reach speeds of 76 mph and also has two inversions, including a skydive, two “raven turns,” one back flip, and a twisting front flip.
These rides, varying from carnival kiddie coasters to theme park “Giga” coasters are the heart of the theme park industry and the engine driving the industry. Typically reliable in performance and safe by amusement industry standards, there are mechanical and control failures occur.
Types of Roller Coaster Accidents
Some of the most common problems with roller coasters include the following:
- Rides getting stuck while in motion along the track due to mechanical failure on the car or train
- Crashes between cars or trains in the load station because of brake failure or other mechanical issues
- Control system defects or errors leading to hard and unexpected stops
- Ejections from the ride caused by restraint system failures
Injuries Caused by Roller Coasters
These issues, as well as many others, can cause catastrophic injury and death. The most frequently occurring injuries include the below:
- Brain injuries (aneurysms, contusions, swelling, and brain bleeds)
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken bones
- Severed limbs and digits
Lives are Worth More than Cheap Thrills
The allure of 4th Dimension roller coasters as the most extreme amusement rides can be too great for many people to pass up. However, without fully realizing it, consumers are literally putting the future of their life up in the air, leaving their safety up to chance. Until the amusement park industry creates and implements a strict set of safety rules and regulations on a federal level, the safety of rides throughout the United States will remain inconsistent and uncertain, putting millions of lives in jeopardy.