Which rides are safest? Which to avoid?
It is impossible to name a best ride because every person has a different level of risk they are willing to accept, and a different level of excitement they want, and as a result, every ride has its own market.
Some people like aggressive rides and other people avoid them. Coaster enthusiasts are particularly enthusiastic but there are fan clubs for almost any type of ride you could name. Carnivals and parks deliberately include a mixture of rides.
The rides that show up frequently in reported injuries are go-karts, water-slides, and inflatable bounces. With rides that allow the riders to control or affect their own motion, speed, direction and position, there is more chance that riders could collide with each other or with fixed objects. With mechanical rides, the ride action is predetermined and a risk assessment has fewer uncertainties, and that makes hazard controls much easier to plan.
Another factor that influences injury is the severity of outcome once an accident occurs. As a general rule of thumb, severe injuries occur where there is more energy. This is a principle of physics, not a unique property of amusement rides. The degree of injury from a carousel is limited by the low elevation and low speed, but people could certainly be bruised or scratched if they bumped into a horse leg or the horse was damaged. A severe injury could happen, but that would most likely be a case where a person fell or was struck “just so” and injured a vulnerable body part. Rides that operate higher off the ground or at faster speeds have more energy and as a result, any injuries could be more severe. A fall from the highest point of a roller coaster could easily be fatal. If, in a rapidly rotating ride like the Himalaya, a rider’s restraint failed and a person was ejected, their injuries could also be severe or fatal. If multiple riders are dropped or ejected at once, then multiple riders may be injured, as well as the people they may land on. These extreme disasters rarely happen, but that is of little comfort to the people who are involved.