Who makes sure the amusement park rides in Texas are safe? – CBS Dallas / Fort Worth


DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Who inspects amusement park rides and carnival rides?

Who oversees the State Fair rides and the amusement park rides? The answer is often, “It depends.

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In many states, the Department of Labor.

In some cases, it is the Department of Agriculture or the Fire Marshal.

And in Texas, it’s the Department of Insurance.

“The amusement ride industry is self-regulated,” says safety analyst Ken Martin.

He says there are no standards on how these rides are inspected from state to state.

And that, he says, is not the way it should work because some of these rides, especially those that travel for carnivals and state fairs, are not inspected using a universal standard.


The Consumer Product Safety Commission told Team I that between 2017 and 2019, there was an annual average of 34,700 injuries associated with rides and slides.

As of 2016, he is aware of 17 deaths associated with entertainment attractions.

Martin says the numbers are likely higher because the industry is self-declared and the CPSC doesn’t track trip safety. There are also no federal requirements for inspections.

Texas’ inspection system is one of the poorest in the country, according to Martin.

He says the Texas Department of Insurance has no inspectors. He relies on the local police department to investigate an incident.

TDI says Texas law does not give it the power to inspect.

When Team I asked about rides inspections and safety-

The agency says TDI does not inspect the rides. Rides are inspected by the ride owner’s insurance company.


In 2013, Rosy Esparza, 52, died falling from the six-flag Texas giant in Arlington.

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In 2015, court documents show Nora Gonzales violently hit the ground while dying when the Scrambler shattered at Traders Village in Grand Prairie,

A year later, 10-year-old Caleb Schwab was killed on a toboggan in Kansas. And earlier this month, 6-year-old Wongel Estifanos died in the Haunted Mine Drop in Colorado.

Four years ago, Team I first reported that the Insurance Department had repeatedly told the legislature in reports that it had “no effective means of monitoring trips” and “no effective means of recourse when cases ”arise.

So what does Texas law require?

It requires operators to report accidents and injuries.

Provide proof of a * private * third party inspection and present proof of liability insurance. In a statement to the I-team, TDI says, “This is the scope of the law. ”Martin says that is not enough. “Here’s the catch, they get an inspection by the company that’s approved by the insurance company,” he says. “This is the case with the fox who guards the henhouse.”

Click here for frequently asked questions from the Texas Department of Insurance about amusement park rides.


Rusty Fitzgerald is the first vice president of the State Fair of Texas.

Under his 20-year watch, there was not a single major incident at the state fair where people were injured

“I go above and beyond to keep everyone safe as much as possible,” says Fitzgerald. He says he sends his crew to other states to inspect the rides before they arrive at the state fair.

He has a team that re-inspects them again before the start of the fair. Rides Inspector Joe Bixler examines each ride from top to bottom. Bixler says he checks everything from mechanics to electronics on every ride. From locks, chains and cable wear to all machinery and electronics.

Still, a safety expert says he doesn’t think that’s enough, as most of these rides travel across the country. And, he says, consistent, standardized monitoring and inspection is necessary for every state.


In Texas, consumers can look for a sticker that says the ride meets Texas regulations.

This means that it has been inspected by an inspector chosen by the amusement park or carnival insurance company.

The sticker also signifies that the ride is covered by a $ 1 million insurance policy.

Fitzgerald and Bixler say that to keep their families safe, bikers and their parents should:

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1) follow the rules – check if the ride has a health, weight or height requirement –
2) observe the rides – are the lights off? What does the paint job look like? Does it make funny noises? The exterior can be an indicator of the interior.
3) observe the operator: is he paying attention? Are they on the phone? Are they alert?
4) use safety equipment correctly. Do not loosen the safety devices or tinker with the mechanism.
5) Be your own inspector – look for an up-to-date permit and notice of compliance.


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