Paper: Rider errors and amusement ride safety: Observation at three carnival midways

Woodcock, K., 2007. Rider errors and amusement ride safety: Observation at three carnival midways. Accident Analysis and Prevention 39, 390–397. Link

Over 5000 ride-exposures were observed at three carnival midways, with 103 ride installations. Rider and operator behaviour was observed and compared with posted safety regulations. The observed errors were analysed and clustered qualitatively and quantitatively. Rider errors were seen in 1.4% of individual ride-exposures, and little operator interception was seen. Most errors of both riders and operators were mistakes rather than slips or lapses, and many were violations. Qualitative typology based on error context indicated that social goals, sensory enhancement or convenience goals made sense of most mistakes. The most common single behaviour observed contrary to posted rules was leaning out or extending limbs. Future interventions should consider whether ride features could guide or support riders in achieving their goals rather than obstructing or prohibiting specific behaviours.

Author: Kathryn Woodcock

Dr. Kathryn Woodcock is Professor at Toronto Metropolitan University, teaching, researching, and consulting in the area of human factors engineering / ergonomics particularly applied to amusement rides and attractions (, and to broader occupational and public safety issues of performance, error, investigation and inspection, and to disability and accessibility.