Overall roller coasters are very safe. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, fatalities from amusement rides average two per year. In 2001, 319 million people visited amusement parks. Given that number, a visitor’s likelihood of being fatally injured is one in one-and-a-half billion. The injury rates for folding lawn chairs exceed those of roller coasters.
Programmable logic controllers (PLCs) are responsible for the proper operation of the roller coasters. In general, coasters have 3 of these systems. If one detects a problem, the ride’s fail safes will be triggered. This is the reason rides occasionally stop on the tracks. However, if deemed safe, the ride’s operator can restart it.
However, accidents do occur. Regulations from state to state vary greatly. Legislation has been introduced to give oversight to the Consumer Product Safety (CPSC). The cause of accidents can be the riders or operators not following safety instructions properly or mechanical failure.
People have raised concern that the more extreme rides could cause brain damage. However, the Brain Injury Association of America claims there is no evidence of t his. In addition, coasters have been accused of triggering abnormal heart conditions which might lead to death. Autopsies have shown that people who died of heart complications had these undetected problems before going to the park.
On the occasion, something does go horribly wrong such as the fatality in 2003 at Disneyland’s Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Riding a rollercoaster does have risks incorporated but as long as the riders, operators, and mechanics do not show negligence, the ride should could smoothly.