Patron-directed Rides and Devices

Inflatable obstacle course

Injuries are more common on patron-directed rides

Injuries are more common on go-karts, waterslides, bumper cars, inflatables and other amusement rides where patrons control the action. This makes perfect sense, for the same reasons automobile injury rates are higher than mass transit injury rates.  Letting a few qualified, trained operators control the locomotion of many people will always be safer than letting many unqualified, untrained people locomote themselves around in an excited, disorganized mass.


  • Teach children how to drive safely before letting them go it alone. Before you let your children operate a go-kart, make sure they know how the vehicle works and why the safety rules are important.  Take them to a track with 2-seat karts so you can ride together.  You wouldn't let your 16-year-old drive an automobile without instruction and practice.  So why let your 9-year-old teach himself how to drive a go-kart?
  • Be a defensive go-kart driver.  Watch out for young drivers and steer clear of Mario Andretti wannabes.


Collisions on waterslides can be as dangerous as collisions on go-karts.

  • Never go down a waterslide until the operator tells you the end is clear.
  • Never slide down a waterslide head-first.  If someone in the catchpool happens to move in front of the slide as you reach the end, the collision can leave you with a serious head or neck injury.
  • Never goof around, try to clog a waterslide, or block the exit tube.
  • Before you let your children visit a waterpark, make sure they understand why these rules are important.


  • Make sure the inflatable is set up and supervised by trained professionals who are familiar with the equipment.  If you are renting, ask about the operator's experience, safety record, and training requirements.  Spend the extra money to have a trained operator supervising the operation and use of the inflatable at all times.
  • Make sure the inflatable is staked or sandbagged in place, and that the operator is attending to his/her job. Avoid inflatables on windy days.
  • Supervise children closely.  Limit the number of children allowed in or on the inflatable at one time.  Never allow older kids to jump with younger children.

Carnival Funhouses

Fun house accident reports from state regulatory agencies show a disturbing trend of body part entrapment involving young children.  Ride manufacturers tend to set very low height limits on fun houses, yet those attractions routinely put patrons within hands-reach of machinery hazards such as rotating drums and moving stairs.  While touching those devices may not result in serious injury to adults, the fingers of a toddler or preschooler are small enough to become entrapped in a very small space.

  • When you take small children to the carnival, skip the fun house.  Exposing toddlers and preschoolers to the type of hazards routinely encountered in fun houses is not a justifiable risk.

Related Safety Tips

Safety first: It begins with me!
Attention Matters and So Do the Rules
Beware of patron daze, rule fudging, wiggle worms and horseplay.
Man and son
Patrons with Disabilities
When choosing rides for people with disabilities, be conservative and realistic.
Boy in elephant ride
Rides May Lack Child Restraints
Child-resistant restraints are not mandatory on most amusement rides approved for use by small children.
Riders of different sizes on Sizzler amusement ride
One-size-fits-all Ride Design
Ride-related accidents can be caused by a poor fit between the patron and the ride.